The massacre of around 290 people in a series of simultaneous explosions across Sri Lanka have once again confronted the world with the growing spectra of the violence against ordinary citizens in the name of a political or religious cause. The attacks targetted the churches on the occasion of Easter and the tourists and wealthy Sri Lankans at the high-end hotels. More than 500 people have been injured.
A local outfit identified as the National Tawheed Jamath is suspected of plotting the deadly blasts. Some early clues and reports had also pointed towards a local jihadi group. But at the same time no group has claimed the responsibility which looks surprising. Perpetrators of the violence of this scale hardly leave anything to imagination. The preliminary investigations have concluded that the attacks were carried out by seven suicide bombers, all of them local. But to the credit of Sri Lanka, its media and the security agencies haven’t jumped the gun on identifying the attackers even before the investigations have begun, something that has invariably been the case in India.
It would be important to see if the attack had a local or trans-national cause. In the latter case, the attacks send a chilling message to the world. They show the worldwide reach of the terror groups of all kinds. By striking in Lanka, these groups have demonstrated their reach to strike anywhere in the world and not let the war remain limited to conflict spots in the world. Lanka bombings follow almost immediately after the killing of over 50 worshippers at a mosque in Christchurch in New Zealand.
Lanka also has many troubles of its own which span the past four decades. The country has a population of 22 million, majority of whom are ethnic Sinhalese, most of whom are Buddhist. Tamils are the second largest minority followed by Muslims and Christians. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) formed in 1976 continued its violent campaign for a separate homeland until 2009 when it was finally defeated by Lankan Army. The vanquished struggle has left a huge humanitarian fallout in its wake. However, the nature of the current attacks made it implausible to pin them on the Tamil groups, despite the fact they were among the first to introduce suicide bombings in pursuit of a cause.
Whoever the perpetrators, it shows the world is becoming increasingly an unsafe place. The international community needs to wake up to the challenge and formulate a joint strategy. What Lankan violence has demonstrated is the ever growing scale of the terror attacks around the world by different groups. What is the solution? The answer to this question is very difficult. But there can be no two opinions about the need for creating a more just world, where atrocities wherever they take place and whosoever is responsible for them are taken note of and dealt with. Where lives in the west, east, north and south also matter. And where longstanding political issues are justly addressed. Such a strategy alone will make a redeeming difference instead of an ill-advised war on terror which has only made the world a lot more unsafe than it was before it began following 9/11 attack.
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