COLOMOBO Countries from across the globe, including the US, the UK, Russia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh expressed shock and condemnation over the deadly blasts at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday that left more than 200 people dead.
Dozens of foreign nationals were feared to have been killed in the near simultaneous blasts, which targeted Catholic church worshippers on Easter Sunday as well as luxury hotels in Colombo.
The blasts targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 am (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress.
Three explosions were reported from the five-star hotels – the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury. Foreigners and locals who were injured in hotel blasts were admitted to the Colombo General Hospital.
US President Donald Trump on Sunday offered “heartfelt condolences” to the people of Sri Lanka.
“Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels… We stand ready to help!,” Trump tweeted.
British Prime Minister Theresa May described the attacks as “truly appalling”.
“The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time,” she tweeted.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia was thinking of those killed in a “horrific terrorist attack”.
“To the beautiful people of Sri Lanka, Australia sends its heartfelt sympathies and our prayers and our support – and our offer to do whatever we can to support you in this terrible time of need,” he said in a statement.
A month after dozens of Muslims were killed in a shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the attack as “devastating”.
“New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on the 15th of March. To see an attack in Sri Lanka while people were in churches and at hotels is devastating”.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan also strongly condemned the barbaric attacks.
“Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost & hundreds injured. My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief,” he tweeted.
Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli condemned the “heinous” terror attacks and extended condolences to the people of Sri Lanka.
“I am deeply saddened by multiple bomb blasts and killings of innocent people in Sri Lanka. I express my condolence to Ranil Wickramasinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and bereaved families of victims of the brutality,” Oli said in a tweet while wishing speedy recovery to the injured people.
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her deep concerns over the explosions which took place on Sunday morning.
In the message, she prayed for peace and salvation of the departed souls and offered her condolences to the grieving families.
Hasina also hoped for a quick recovery of the injured.
European leaders are expressing horror at the attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier wrote in a message to his Sri Lankan counterpart that he was “stunned and horrified” by the “cowardly terror attacks.”
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz wrote on Twitter that he was “deeply shaken and concerned by (the) devious terrorist attacks.”
German Chancellor Angel Merkel said: “Terrorism, religious hatred and intolerance cannot be allowed to win.”
“We’re horrified by the news that Christians in Sri Lanka were attacked and killed during Easter services,” wrote Merkel’s spokesperson on Twitter. “We mourn them and pray for the injured and their family members.”
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attacks “an assault on all of humanity”.
Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates all issued statements via their foreign ministries condemning the attack.
UN leaders strongly condemn Sri Lankan attacks
The UN leadership strongly condemned the string of attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday that killed over 200 people, with chief of the world body Antonio Guterres saying he was “outraged” by the devastating blasts.
Eight blasts, including suicide attacks, targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 am (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress.
Explosions were reported from three five-star hotels – the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury in Colombo.
An Indian and two Chinese are among 215 people killed in the attack which shattering a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the LTTE.
In a statement issued by his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN Secretary-General Guterres said he was “outraged by the terrorist attacks” on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, which is a “sacred day” for Christians around the world.
The UN Chief “recalls the sanctity of all places of worship. He hopes the perpetrators will be swiftly brought to justice,” the statement added.
Expressing his deepest condolences to the families of the victims, the people and Government of Sri Lanka, Guterres commended the Sri Lankan leadership and unity of the people of the island nation in the wake of the attacks.
“The Secretary-General reiterates the support and solidarity of the United Nations with the people and the Government of Sri Lanka in this difficult moment for the nation,” the statement said.
So far, no group has claimed responsibility for carrying out the the blasts, one of the deadliest attacks in the country’s history.
The police have reportedly arrested seven people in connection with the attacks.
In a tweet, UN’s Resident Coordinator for the Indian Ocean island Hanaa Singer said the UN “strongly condemns the horrific attacks carried out against civilians and worshippers…Heartfelt condolences to the families, victims, Government and people”.
She also urged Sri Lankans to stand united in the face of the carnage.
President of the UN General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa also expressed her “deep sadness” over the blasts.
She said her thoughts were with the people of Sri Lanka, “affected by yet another act of senseless violence”.
“We must unite in our common humanity to condemn these heinous acts and stop targetting innocent people, practising their faith in peace,” Espinosa said.
Sri Lanka’s bloody 30-year civil war waged between the government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the north ended in 2009 with the defeat of the separatist forces.
The island is home to around 1.5 million Christians, the vast majority Roman Catholic. The Singhalese majority are Buddhist comprising around 70 per cent of the population – besides sizeable Hindu and Muslim populations.
In response to Sunday’s attacks, a national curfew has been put in place, and social media networks such as Facebook and WhatsApp have been blocked.
According to a UN news article, eye witness reports from St Sebastian’s church in Negombo describe a scene of carnage, with dozens killed.
There were also heavy casualties at St Anthony’s in the Kochckicade district of Colombo, where the first blast happened.
Pope Francis, in his Easter Address outside St Peter’s in Rome, expressed his “affectionate closeness” for the Christian community in Sri Lanka which had been struck while gathering for one of its biggest celebrations of the year, and said his thoughts were with “all the victims of such cruel violence”.
World celebrities condemn Sri Lanka blasts; call for swift action, peace
Calling for swift action from authorities and an appeal for peace, celebrities from around the world such as Jacqueline Fernandez, Mindy Kaling, Shekhar Kapur and Ali Zafar condemned a series of blasts in Sri Lanka that targeted people in churches, luxury hotels and a housing complex on Easter Sunday.
The eight blasts killed nearly 160 people — including dozens of foreigners — with British, Dutch and American citizens believed to be among them.
The nature of the blasts was not immediately clear and there were no immediate claims of responsibility.
Bollywood actor and former Miss Universe Sri Lanka, Fernandez said “violence is like a chain reaction” and it is time it stopped.
“Extremely sad at the news of bombings in Sri Lanka. It’s unfortunate that one is not able to see that violence is like a chain reaction. This has to stop!” she said.
Indian-origin American actor-writer Kaling said it is “sickening” how people celebrating Easter were attacked on “one of the holiest of days”.
“This news from Sri Lanka is horrifying. My heart goes out to all victims and their families. So many were people attending church on one of the holiest of days, I am absolutely sickened,” she tweeted.
Filmmaker Kapur said terrorism is a threat to the whole world.
“Latest reports say 150 people killed in Sri Lanka in terrorist attacks on churches, hotels. While none has admitted to this, it was a well coordinated attack at Easter. When Churches were full. Terrorism remains our number one global enemy. No one, nowhere is safe,” the director said.
Pakistani actor-singer Zafar urged people to stay united in this hour of need.
“Saddened to hear about the terror attacks in Sri Lanka. Heart goes out to the innocent lives lost and the people of #SriLanka. We must collectively strive to to bring sustainable peace to the region,” he tweeted.
American pop star Mariah Carey said her heart goes out to the country.
“Sri Lanka, my heart is with you. I’m praying for everyone affected by this horrible tragedy. Stay strong,” she wrote on Twitter.
South superstar-politician Kamal Haasan said violence can never be the solution to human disagreements.
“Ironic that the island that spawned the word serendipity is not able to find it. My deepest sympathies to those affected by the bombs in Sri Lanka. The government should be impartial and swift in rendering justice,” Haasan tweeted.
Abhishek Bachchan sent his prayers and thoughts to the neighbouring country.
“?Stay strong #SriLanka!” the actor wrote on the microblogging site.
R Madhavan tweeted, “So very heart breaking and tragic. Heartfelt sympathies to all families of the victims. God give them courage to handle this cowardice.”
Arjun Kapoor said he was “disturbed to hear about the monstrous attack in Sri Lanka on such an auspicious day”.
Parineeti Chopra tweeted, “Could never have thought a quiet country like #Srilanka could be attacked like this. What is the world coming to? Thinking of all the families affected. All my love and prayers always.”
“Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragic act of violence in Sri Lanka. We are praying with you in this painful moment of sorrow, grief and shock,” Anushka Sharma tweeted.
Dia Mirza wrote, “My heart goes out to #Srilanka. Thoughts and prayers for all the families who have lost their loved one’s…”
Actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar also took to Twitter to condemn the attacks.
“Deeply saddened and shocked to hear about the church bomb blasts in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday… My prayers for those who lost their lives and condolences to their families… We condemn the terror attack,” Matondkar, who recently joined the Congress party, said.
Actor-politician Prakash Raj said in the light of the attacks, it is important to “beware of and condemn all bigots who are sowing hatred”.
“Blasts in Sri Lanka as people are praying… This hate… These ugly acts of majoritarianism will consume us. Humanity one day… dear citizens this is why we need to be aware and be careful and condemn all the bigots who are sowing hatred. And dividing us in our society today,” Raj tweeted.
“My heartfelt condolences and prayers are with the families affected in #Srilanka. Here’s praying and hoping for a terror free world!” Sidharth Malhotra tweeted.
Vicky Kaushal wrote, “Prayers for Sri Lanka.”
Swara Bhasker called the news of serial blasts “heartbreaking and tragic”.
“Curses upon the monsters who carried out this inhumanity! On a joyous festive day! What is the world coming to? Prayers and strength to the victims and families,” she tweeted.
Boman Irani said he was shocked to hear the extremely disturbing news and recalled staying at one of the hotels struck by the blasts.
“Had stayed at the hotels and it’s heartbreaking to even imagine the situation.
My heartfelt condolences to the near and dear ones of those who lost their lives & praying for a speedy recovery of the ones injured,” Irani tweeted.
South actor Siddharth said he is devastated by the news of blasts in Sri Lanka.
“Places of worship and hotels have been targeted. To all those affected, you are in our prayers,” he said.
TV actor-host Karan Tacker wrote, “This has just left me silent. Really sorry for the families of the people affected by this. #SriLanka”.
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