A Catholic church has been bombed in the conflict-torn northern Shan state as renewed fighting intensified between the Burmese military and armed ethnic groups.

St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Mongkoe Township, near the Chinese border, was hit by airstrikes on December 3, the feast of St Francis Xavier.

Uca­news.com reported that the parish priest, nuns and some 1,000 Catholics from the area had already fled to China. No one was hurt by the morning raid, which caused fires to burn well into the afternoon.

Bishop Philip Lasap Za Hawng of Lashio said that, once he had the facts, he planned to write to “the authorities, the military commander and chief minister of Shan state”.

The ethnic Kachin bishop called on the government to negotiate with the armed factions. “We need all the armed groups to participate in peace talks,” he said.

More than 60 Christian churches have been destroyed in the Kachin state since a long-standing ceasefire broke down in 2011, according to the British-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

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