A junta airstrike on a village in Myanmar’s southeastern Kayin State killed five people, including a child of about three-years-old, according to David Eubank, a former US commander who founded the Free Burma Rangers.
A Baptist pastor and a Catholic bishop also died in Thursday night’s raid on Lu Thaw township’s Laywa village.
Many civilians were injured in the attack, according to locals, who said everyone had fled the village.
Eubank told RFA two fighter jets targeted a church and dropped two bombs.
"If it had been a school instead of a church, all the students would have died because the building had been completely destroyed," said Eubank, whose group trains ethnic pro-democracy groups to provide emergency care in conflict zones.
Lu Thaw township is in Hpapun district, close to the headquarters of the Karen National Union, in an area controlled by the KNU's military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, which has fought numerous battles against junta forces in Kayin State.
On Jan. 4, KNLA joint forces attacked three military camps in Kayin State’s Kyainseikgyi township, claiming to have killed nearly 50 soldiers.
Last month, a week-long battle between junta troops and the KNLA in Kawkareik city left three civilians dead and forced more than a thousand to flee their homes.
The KNU/KNLA was one of four powerful armed ethnic groups to reject the offer of peace talks with the junta last year. The groups said there could be no negotiations unless they involved the ousted National Unity Government and its People’s Defense Force.
Padoh Mahn Mahn, the leader of KNU Brigade 5, confirmed that five people were killed on Thursday. He told RFA the KNU is helping other villages in the area prepare for junta airstrikes to avoid casualties.
Saw Khin Maung Myint, Kayin State’s junta spokesman and economy minister, did not return RFA's calls seeking comment on the attack.
Myanmar’s military regime continues to conduct airstrikes despite a warning from the U.N. Security Council that they must end all acts of violence.
On Monday, a junta airstrike on the Chin National Front headquarters in Chin State killed five of its soldiers.
More than 2,700 civilians have been killed in junta crackdowns in the 23 months since the military seized power from the democratically elected government in a Feb. 1, 2021 coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).
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