Charles Maung Bo’s appeal came after four people sheltered in a church were killed in fighting in the east of the country.
A Roman Catholic leader in Myanmar has called for an end to attacks on places of worship, after killing four people and injuring more than eight, especially in a fight this week when a group of women and children sought refuge in a church.
Conflict between the army and military forces has escalated in recent days near the border between Shan and Kayah states in eastern Myanmar, killing dozens of security forces and local fighters, residents and the media have reported.
Civilians have also been killed and thousands have fled their homes.
“It is with great sadness and pain that we record our seriousness in the attack on innocent civilians who wanted to take refuge in Kayanthayar Sacred Heart Church,” Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, the archbishop of Yangon, said in a letter on Twitter, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The church in Loikaw district, the capital of the state of Kayah on the border with Thailand, was badly damaged in Sunday night’s attack, Bo said.
Honest Appeal – On May 23, 2021, near Loanaw, in Kayanthayar, Loikaw, east of Myanth, he made special reference to the attack on the Church of the Sacred Life.
(May 25, 2021) pic.twitter.com/Uk5TR51vcK
– Bo Cardinal (@cardinal_bo) May 25, 2021
Myanmar is predominantly Buddhist, but in some areas Kayah has large Christian communities.
“Violent actions, including constant explosions, using heavy weapons were mostly against a terrifying group of women and children,” the casualties said.
“This has to stop. We all ask you … kindly, don’t escalate the war, ”he said.
Bo said churches, hospitals and schools were protected through international conventions during the conflict.
He said the attack has prompted people to flee to the jungle as more than 20,000 people are displaced and in urgent need of food, medicine and hygiene.
Another resident in the area trying to help the displaced on Wednesday estimated that the number of people fleeing their homes had risen by between 30,000 and 50,000 and that churches were still being used as shelters.
“The elderly and children are in churches. All the churches have put up white flags to stop the explosions, ”he said, urging the 20-year-old not to be identified.
He said the situation kept tensions around and accused the army of continuing to use heavy weapons against lightly armed local militias.
A military spokesman did not respond to phone calls.
Myanmar has been in chaos since the army took power on February 1, ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The mass movement against the coup has caused daily protests, marches and strikes across the country and the generals have responded with deadly force.
More than 800 people have been killed since the protests began, according to the Association of Political Prisoners Support, which is monitoring the response of security forces. The military is debating the figure, and coup leader Min Aung Hlaing recently said about 300 people were killed in the unrest, including 47 police officers.
The military is also fighting on more and more fronts, against established ethnic minority armies and local militias formed in recent weeks, many armed with basic rifles and domestic weapons.
Min Aung Hlaing has reduced the risk of violence to turn it into a bigger conflict.
“I don’t think there will be a civil war,” he told Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television in a May 20 interview with Phoenix Television.