Monastery destroyed by airstrikes in eastern Myanmar

Airstrikes carried out by Myanmar’s military on Thursday destroyed a monastery and several houses in a village near the country’s border with Thailand, sources in the area reported.

The pre-dawn attacks, which targeted the village of Mekatha in Karen (Kayin) State’s Kyainseikgyi Township, began at around 2:30am and lasted about half an hour, residents said.

At least one of the 50 monks staying at the monastery was injured, according to its abbot, Ven. Sirinna.

“I never imagined that something like this would ever happen here. I would understand it if I were politically active, but I’ve just been focusing on my faith,” he said, speaking to the Karen Information Center, a local news outlet.

“I’m just running a teaching monastery. This attack has caused us so many problems,” he added.

Myanmar Now was unable to determine if there were any other casualties from the attacks. Details about houses that were damaged or destroyed were also unavailable.

According to a statement released by the Karen National Union (KNU), the airstrikes were carried out by three fighter jets from the military’s air force base in Hmawbi, in Yangon Region. 

Last Wednesday, the KNU seized control of a nearby hilltop base located about 10km from Payathonzu, a town on the Thai-Myanmar border that is also known as Three Pagodas Pass.

The group and its People’s Defence Force (PDF) allies reportedly killed 13 junta troops, including a deputy battalion commander, in their assault on the base, which was occupied by soldiers from Infantry Battalion 238.

The KNU and PDF forces under the command of the anti-regime National Unity Government have successfully overrun several bases in the area, including some that have been controlled by Myanmar’s military for decades.

According to KNU spokesperson Pado Saw Taw Nee, a number of battalion commanders have been among the junta troops who have surrendered to resistance forces in recent months.

Meanwhile, local residents continue to face aerial attacks launched by the regime in a bid to retake the bases.

One Payathonzu local told Myanmar Now that most residents of the area were awakened by Thursday’s airstrikes.

“We couldn’t sleep because of the noise. They—I think they were fighter jets—were incredibly loud. We also had to turn out all the lights so that they couldn’t see us,” he said.

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