The Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, has laid mines around a church in Shan State which it occupied for several days in early September.
The interior of the church building, in the town of Moebye, showed signs of occupation. Rows of seating were covered with dust, and kitchenware items left behind indicated the church had been used for cooking. Military uniforms were also abandoned.
Local residents were warned not to approach the church building until mines had been cleared from the area.
Heavy Tatmadaw shelling of the town destroyed 100 homes and killed a seven-year-old boy in the first days of September. More than 5,000 people fled their homes in Moebye in June 2021 as a result of the military’s repeated attacks on the town.
On 12 September, Nicholas Koumjian, head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, commented: “Perpetrators of the most serious international crimes committed in Myanmar must know that we are united in our efforts to break the cycle of impunity and to ensure that those responsible for such crimes will face justice.”
Moebye is just 30 miles from Demoso township in neighbouring Kayah State, where a Christian father and 13-year-old daughter were killed by a Tatmadaw shell on Sunday 31 July.
The Tatmadaw, which seized power in Buddhist-majority Myanmar in a coup on 1 February 2021, has for many years persecuted the Christian-majority Chin, Kachin and Karen ethnic groups, as well as the large Christian communities in Kayah and Shan states, and the Muslim-majority Rohingya.