A church was among 19 buildings burned down in shelling by the Myanmar military (also known as the Tatmadaw) in an already deserted town in Chin State on 4 December.

A United Pentecostal church was set alight in the attack along with several homes in the town of Thantlang. Former Vice President Henry Van Thio, the first non-Buddhist to hold the office before being ousted in the military coup of 1 February, was known to worship at that church.

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.

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A further 19 buildings including a church were burned down in the latest shelling of the deserted town of Thantlang, Chin State, on 4 December [Image credit:  Chin Human Rights Organization]

In shelling on 25 November, Thantlang Centenary Baptist Church was among at least 49 buildings destroyed by fires caused by an artillery attack.

The church’s pastor, 31-year-old Cung Biak Hum, had been shot dead by Tatmadaw soldiers on 18 September.

More than 450 houses and five churches have been set ablaze in Thantlang since 9 September, according to reports from rights groups and local media.

At least 22 churches have been burned or destroyed by the military along with more than 350 civilian homes in Chin State between August and November, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization.

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.

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Myanmar (Burma)

This article originally appeared on Barnabas Fund/News