Burma army soldiers severely beat a Baptist preacher in Kachin state's northernmost Putau (also Patao) district earlier this month when he was crossing a bridge, say sources close to the victim. Troops also confiscated the national identity card of the preacher who practices at the Sumpyi Yang Kachin Baptist church.
The preacher was stopped at the Munglang Shidi bridge at about 4 p.m. May 12 and then beaten by troops from the Burma Army’s Infantry Battalion No. 137 who operate a checkpoint at the bridge. The preacher who is a member of the Kachin Baptist Convention was on his way to a meeting at Nam Hkam village in Machyangbaw township.
According to the preacher's fellow church members soldiers began verbally mistreating him as soon as he presented his identity papers. The preacher was then severely beaten by a group of soldiers. When he was released a few hours later the soldiers did not return any of his personal belongings including his travel papers.
LIB No. 263 shoots at churches in Chipwi
Troops from the Burma army's Light Infantry Battalion No. 263 fired bullets and small mortars at church buildings in the Chipwi area last month in an apparent attempt to intimidate local villagers and their preachers and pastors.
The people of Chipwi town, which is about 60 miles northeast of the Kachin capital Myitkyina, have suffered tremendously since the Burma army increased its presence in the area earlier this year according to local residents.
During the last week of April troops stationed near Kachin Baptist church in Chipwi began firing their weapons in the direction of the church injuring a preacher who was hit in his right knee. The preacher is now recovering in hospital.
During this time troops also fired in the direction of two other Chipwi churches, the Assembly of God church, and a Roman Catholic Church according to church leaders.
Heavy fighting between troops from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and government forces has also recently took place at two nearby villages along the Myitkyina to Putao route road, Hka Garan Yang on May 10 and Sumpyi Yang on May 13. Soldiers responded to the presence of KIA in the area by firing mortars and bullets in the direction of both villagers, creating panic and fear among local residents.
The army has also implemented travel bans to prevent village residents from fleeing Hka Garan Yang, Sumpyi Yang and Chipwi villagers when fighting is going on, according to trapped residents.