A church was burned down following further shelling by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) on the already deserted town of Thantlang in Christian-majority Chin State on 25 November.
Thantlang Centenary Baptist Church was among at least 49 buildings destroyed by fires caused by the artillery attack.
The church’s pastor, 31-year-old Cung Biak Hum, had been shot dead by Tatmadaw soldiers on 18 September.
Pastor Cung was riding his motorbike towards damaged houses in order to support efforts to bring a blaze caused by an artillery attack under control. After shooting him soldiers then hacked off his finger in order to steal his wedding ring.
Most of Thantlang’s population of 10,000 had left following earlier artillery strikes. Heavy shelling on 30 October destroyed or damaged more than 160 houses and three church buildings.
A Thantlang resident, whose house had burned down, commented, “The military is supposed to protect the lives and property of the people. But it is doing the opposite. It is a terrorist army being exploited by a small group.”
The ongoing violence in Chin State has displaced thousands of people, with an estimated 1,800 fleeing across the Indian border to seek refuge in the state of Mizoram.
The Chin population of Myanmar is thought to be at least 90% Christian. The Tatmadaw has for many years persecuted the Christian-majority Chin, Kachin, and Karen ethnic groups as well as the Muslim-majority Rohingya.