I was going to write a positive post wishing everyone who celebrates it a “Happy Easter” but this morning’s news from Sri Lanka of over 200 killed at three churches and three five star hotels experienced bomb attacks shook me.
Six bombs all went off at around 845am local time. Three suicide bombers have been reported as being involved, so far. No claim of the cause and no motives as yet. Explosions were reported at:
- St Anthony’s, an historic shrine in Kochchikade, a district of Colombo.
- St Sebastian’s Katuwapitiya in Negombo, a town 10km from Colombo’s airport
- Zion Church in Batticaloa, the former capital of Sri Lanka, about 300km (180mi) from Colombo
- the Cinnamon Grand during its Easter buffet breakfast
- Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo
- Shangri-La Hôtel, Colombo at its Table One restaurant
A seventh explosion was later reported at a hotel near the National Zoological Gardens in Dehiwala, southern Colombo, with police sources reporting two deaths. An eighth explosion was reported near Dematagoda in Colombo with three security personnel killed by a suicide bomber during a police raid.
The sight of people grieving over the loss of loved ones murdered while they lifted their voices in song or knelt in prayer was chilling. Likewise for the people killed while going about their business or vacations at the hotels.
A very distressing video can be seen here.
The bombing death toll exceeds that of the death toll of two major bombings during the civil war (2006 Digampathana bombing and 1996 Central Bank of Sri Lanka).
Anyone who targets women, men and children indiscriminately is a coward. They deserve our condemnation. There is no cause, no fight, no argument that justifies this.
One positive is that in the recent New Zealand horror, the wider Sri Lankan community has reportedly rallied around the victims. Just as New Zealanders did in the recent Christchurch horror., Colombo resident Usman Ali told the BBC there were massive queues as he joined people trying to donate blood. “Everyone had just one intention and that was to help the victims of the blast, no matter what religion or race they may be. Each person was helping another out in filling forms.”
The Sri Lankan Minister for Finance, Mangala Samaraweera tweeted:
It all feels a little close to home as two years ago, we freely walked around close to where the hotel blasts occurred . I had started making plans for another visit. Such an amazing country that has known too much war. They deserve better. After years of civil war, the time of peace has awoken the world to the food, culture, beaches, people (and tea!) of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Police have requested the public to refrain from visiting blast sites and remain calm and assist the Police in maintaining Law and Order. There is a curfew tonight. Passengers planing to fly from Sri Lanka have been advised to check in four hours early and that no visitors are being allowed into the airport. People can travel to the airport during the curfew but must show passports and booking record at check points. The police reminded the public that spreading rumors and inaccurate news is legally punishable crime asked the people to refrain from stirring communal violence.
I lend my respect to those who have died in innocence today and send my condolences to the grieving.
May we find roads to peace from this and not more killing.