Four civilians were reportedly killed when Tatmadaw military forces in Myanmar fired heavy artillery shells near a Catholic Church.
Officials said another eight people were injured in the attack early Monday morning in the Kayah State of Myanmar, The Christian Post reports. The blasts damaged the church's roof, ceiling and cross.
According to the Ministry of International Cooperation of the National Unity Government of Myanmar, children and elderly civilians were among those who fled to hide in the Catholic church as Myanmar's military force Tatmadaw clashed with the People's Defense Force.
About 300 people took refuge in the church compound.
According to the Fides News Agency, the Myanmar military attacked near the area to target rebel groups, but one of the mortar shells hit the church.
Over the weekend, military forces had raided a Baptist church in Insein, Yangon, also in Myanmar. Military forces allegedly destroyed property.
The Ministry of International Cooperation says military forces "brutally beat" and detained the pastor and two young men, including one who was disabled.
The violence has escalated since a Feb. 1 military coup when civilian government leader Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested and deposed. Christian Solidarity Worldwide says since then, the military has especially targeted Christian leaders.
Activists have said that more than 800 people have been killed nationwide due to the fighting and protesting. In many cases, civilians have been impacted by the fighting.
"We extend our deepest condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in the recent attack on the Catholic church in Kayan Thar Yar and continue to call on the Tatmadaw to cease all targeting of innocent and unarmed civilians," said Benedict Rogers, CSW's senior analyst for East Asia. "The international sanctions introduced so far have been welcome, but states can and must do more to cut off funding to the Tatmadaw and increase pressure on it to halt its assault on the people of Myanmar."
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.