RANGOON, BURMA (BosNewsLife) – Churches and Buddhist monasteries in a mining area of Burma’s northern Kachin state have taken in nearly 1,000 refugees, many of them Christians, since New Year’s Day, after the Burmese military reportedly attacked a church and killed several people, BosNewsLife established Tuesday, January 10.
The Kachin News Group (KNG) cited locals as saying that most refugees arrived in the Hpakant region to escape Burmese troops who launched attacks, despite President Thein Sein’s order to stop the war against insurgents.
KNG said the Lawng Hkang Kachin Baptist Church cared for 300 people while over 120 people were seen in the Maw Si Za Kachin Baptist Church. An additional 300 plus people sought shelter at the Maw Si Zar Buddhist temple and over 170 people were thought to have fled to nearby Sha-it Yang village.
Burmese soldiers have been fighting against the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and its rebels who have fought for autonomy in the Christian-majority Kachin state since the early 1960s, when then-Burmese Prime Minister U Nu made Buddhism the state religion.
Some 90 percent of the roughly 56 million people in Burma, also known as Myanmar, are Buddhist, mostly from the Burman ethnic group.