While the Christian world woke up to Easter Sunday celebrations, people in Sri Lanka woke to shocking attacks which have targeted several churches where Christians were celebrating the most important feast in the Catholic calendar. A total of eight explosions took place in churches and hotels but the biggest attack occurred in the church of San Sebastian of Negombo. In addition to the large numbers that lost their lives, there has been major structural damage to buildings. Two other churches attacked were St Anthony of Kochchikade and of Batticaloa. Four hotels in Colombo were also attacked amongst these the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and the Cinnamon Grand hotel.
Manifestly upset, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has condemned the attacks.
Among the two hundred plus people that died in the explosion, 27 are confirmed to be citizens of foreign countries. Although it is not yet known if there are any Maltese among the dead, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has urged the Maltese not to travel to Sri Lanka until further notice.
Due to the fear of more explosions, the authorities have imposed a curfew for people not to leave their homes between six pm and six am. Up to now seven people have been arrested in connection with the explosions. In an effort to curb false news the government has temporarily blocked the use of several social media services.
At the conclusion of his Urbi et Orbi address in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Pope Francis – who visited Sri Lanka in 2015 – expressed solidarity with Christians affected by these attacks.
In Sri Lanka there are some one million five hundred thousand Christians, but the majority of the population embrace Buddhism. This attack is considered to be the worst since the militant group Tamil Tigers lost the civil war in 2009.