A series of explosions in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday left 290 people dead and around 500 injured.
Bombs first detonated at 8:45 a.m. Indian Standard Time on Easter Sunday, killing worshippers at St. Anthony’s Shrine.
The attack has now been confirmed as an act of terrorism. National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a radical Islamic group, has claimed responsibility for the explosions that took place across three Sri Lankan cities: Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa.
In total, three Catholic churches and three upscale hotels were targeted by suicide bombers. The sites attacked were well-known as locations frequented by foreign tourists. Though the majority of deceased individuals were Sri Lankan locals, approximately three dozen foreign visitors were recovered.
With the 26-year-long Sri Lanka civil war still fresh in the minds of many (the conflict ended in 2009), this attack represented the most violence the country has seen over the past decade and the bombings now stand as the deadliest attack against Christians in South Asia in recent years. Though there has been no history of Muslim militants in Sri Lanka, tensions between religious groups have existed
The country remains under a social media ban, now in its second day, due to the government trying to control the spread of misinformation regarding the bombings. A nationwide curfew was also imposed.
Many notable figureheads have spoken out since the attacks yesterday morning, including the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, and Pope Francis.
"I learned with sadness the news of the serious attacks that, today, Easter Sunday, brought mourning and pain to some churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka," the Pope said in his address. "I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community hit while gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence."
Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association responded to the attack on Twitter.
"My prayers are with victims & their families after multiple Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka. At least 140 people are dead & hundreds more are injured & suffering."
My prayers are with victims & their families after multiple Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka. At least 140 people are dead & hundreds more are injured & suffering. No group has claimed responsibility yet—it seems they just wanted to destroy life. https://t.co/a5QdMzONL4— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) April 21, 2019
Ravi Zacharias, founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries offered condolences and a message of hope to all affected.
"Today we send the Sri Lankan people our love and to our Lord, prayers for healing. Good Friday is the reminder that sin is murderous. Easter is the reminder that death is not the end. May the God of peace triumph through this tragedy."
Today we send the Sri Lankan people our love and to our Lord, prayers for healing. Good Friday is the reminder that sin is murderous. Easter is the reminder that death is not the end. May the God of peace triumph through this tragedy. https://t.co/YPoofbT0Je #SriLankaAttacks— Ravi Zacharias (@RaviZacharias) April 22, 2019
At this time, 24 individuals have been detained for their connections to the Easter attacks.
A candlelight vigil will be held tonight at 7:00 p.m. by the Sri Lankan Association of Manitoba for the victims of the Easter Sunday attack. The vigil will take place at the Manitoba Legislative Building (450 Broadway Street).