Thousands, including many Christians, flee shelling in Moybe in Shan state after junta steps up attacks on rebels
In this photo taken on March 8, 2023 members of the ethnic rebel group, the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), take part in a training exercise at their base camp in a forest in Myanmar's Shan State. At least 30 civilians have been killed in fighting between junta troops and rebel groups in the state in recent weeks according to a rights group. (Photo: AFP)
More than two dozen civilians have been reportedly killed since May 27 amid heavy fighting between junta forces and rebel groups in Myanmar, according to local rights and humanitarian groups.
At least 30 civilians were killed or reported missing from May 27 to June 12, in Mobye in Shan state, located between the capital Naypyitaw and an area controlled by a rebel group, according to the Karenni Human Rights group.
“At least two civilians were injured at Loi Wa village, in Loikaw township, in shelling by the military from Loikaw to Mobye and nearby areas on June 14,” the group said on its Twitter account on June 15.
Heavy fighting was taking place in Shan state after the military stepped up an offensive on May 27, the group said.
“This morning [June 16] we heard artillery shelling from Loikaw town and it appears fighting has been ongoing around Mobye,” a source, who did not wish to be named, told UCA News.
Mobye is home to 30,000 people, half of whom are Christians, mostly Catholics. There are also Buddhists from various ethnic groups like Karenni, Kayan and Kayaw.
A Church source said the locals have fled Mobye and have taken shelter in relatives’ homes or monasteries in Taunggyi and Pekhon townships.
Mobye is in Pekhon diocese that covers southern Shan state and is one of the areas hit hardest by ongoing fighting along with Loikaw diocese in neighboring Kayah state, where several parishes were abandoned after thousands fled.
Dr. Sasa, minister of international cooperation in Myanmar's shadow National Unity Government, has strongly condemned the loss of life in Shan state and called on the international community to take action against the perpetrators.
“We have called on the international community, including Myanmar’s neighbors and concerned organizations, to take action for an end to military atrocities against its own people and to hold them accountable,” Sasa, a Christian, said in a June 14 statement.
The military, which toppled the civilian government in February 2021, has not acknowledged the death of civilians and the ongoing fighting in Shan state, which borders China to the north, and Laos to the east.
The Free Burma Rangers, a Christian humanitarian group that provides medical aid to remote border areas of the country, said some 26 villagers were killed between June 6 and June 8 and another 20 were wounded due to the intense fighting in Mobye.
Villagers found the bodies of six civilians shot by the army and knew that there were five more. But they unable to retrieve the bodies due to the presence of the army, the Christian group said in a report on June 13.
Myanmar’s military has stepped up attacks on rebel forces in Christian majority areas of Kayah, Chin and Karen states while its troops also burned several villages in the Bamar-heartland of Sagaing and Magwe regions where it faces stiff resistance.
More than 6,300 civilians were killed in the first 20 months after the military coup, according to a report by the Oslo- based Peace Research Institute.
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