Burma Army Airstrikes Kill Baby, Mother, Pastor, Catholic Deacon and Villager in Karen State, Burma

12 January 2023

Lay Wah Village, Karen State, Burma

Dear friends,

We were horrified to see the bodies of five dead people killed in a Burma Army airstrike today, 12 January 2023. A Burma military jet fighter came and dropped two bombs on the village of Lay Wah, in northern Karen State, between 1400 and 1500 today, 12 January. The bombs destroyed two churches and the school, as well as other structures. A mother and her baby were instantly killed, as was another villager, the pastor of the Baptist church, and a Catholic deacon. Two women, one the wife of the deacon, were wounded.

Those killed are Naw Marina, aged two years and 11 months and her mother, Naw La Kler  Paw – both of whom had large holes in the backs of their heads with their brains exposed. The Catholic deacon is named Saw Ready Htoo and had multiple fatal wounds. Pastor Saw Cha Aye was mangled terribly. Saw Blae, the villager who was helping at the church, was disintegrated by the blast and only the stumps of his legs could be found.

Four large craters grouped tightly together bore witness to the two air strikes of two bombs each that came in, right on target, at the church. There would have been more casualties but the villagers had already fled into the jungle and school was being held in the jungle at that time. If the school children had been in their classroom they all would have been killed, as that structure was completely destroyed.

We arrived at the site of destruction and death a few hours after it happened. Earlier in the day, we were walking back from a relief mission to the north when we heard a jet fly over us and make two bombing runs in the distance. They seemed to be far away, maybe 20 miles. Then we got a message on the radio that a Burma Army aircraft had hit a village and killed civilians. We still had a long way to go to get to this village but went as fast as we could. On the way, we passed two wounded women being taken out by villagers with their children. One of the women told us her husband was the Catholic deacon and had just been killed in the air strike.

The villagers went on to the clinic while we continued to the destroyed village of Lay Wah. We arrived after dark. The first thing we saw at the outskirts of the village was a buffalo with half its front leg torn off, stumbling around in agony. We saw shrapnel-damaged homes and roofs blown off. As we went deeper in the village, we found the church itself completely destroyed along with another church building and the school. Four large bomb craters were there in the center of the area, all within 20 yards of each other. Some villagers had come back and they showed us the mangled bodies of the five who had been killed. We documented this and prayed with the people and promised we would help the families and that we would help rebuild the school and church.

We prayed for the people – and we also prayed for the Burma Army, which was not easy. We prayed that their hearts would change or that they would fall. We prayed for comfort for the people and we prayed for help and an end to this war of a government against its own people. This was an evil and horrifying thing to see and it’s not the first time this has happened. Just a few days ago we were at another church and school that took a direct hit from the Burma Army in Tho Thoo Plaw Village, Karen State.

We are committed to helping the wounded recover and those that have lost their loved ones be comforted as best we can. We are also committed to rebuilding the churches and schools we have seen destroyed. Thank you so much for being in this with us and for praying for us.

Pictures are below. 

Wounded wife of deacon, Saw Ready Htoo, who was killed.
Second wounded woman from Lay Wah.
Lay Wah school after the airstrike.
Shrapnel in bomb crater at the church. 
Teresa, a local school teacher who told us about the airstrike and how she and her students survived because she had recently moved the classes into the jungle.
Destroyed church in Lay Wah.
The bodies of the mother, Lah Kler Paw, baby Marina, and deacon Ready Htoo.
The remains of all five, including Pastor Saw Ready Htoo and villager Saw Blae.

Thanks and God Bless,

Dave, family and FBR