News World Churches fall silent in Sri Lanka a week after attacks

Churches fall silent in Sri Lanka a week after attacks

Churches across Sri Lanka suspended Sunday mass as security concerns remained high a week after suicide bombers killed over 250 in churches and hotels across the island nation.

Sri Lanka has been on high alert since the attacks on Easter Sunday, with nearly 10,000 soldiers deployed across the island to carry out searches and hunt down members of two local Islamist groups believed to have carried out the attack.

Authorities have detained over 100 people since the bombings in three churches and four hotels, most of which were in the capital Colombo.

The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, held a solemn special mass from a church adjacent to his house that was broadcast live across local television and radio.

“We cannot kill someone in the name of god… It is a great tragedy that happened,” the archbishop said in his sermon, attended by President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“We extend our hand of friendship and fraternity to all our brothers and sisters of whatever class, society or religion that differentiates us.”

After the sermon, the archbishop and the political leaders lit candles to commemorate the victims of the suicide bombings.

Sri Lanka’s 22 million people include minority Christians, Muslims and Hindus. Until now, Christians had largely managed to avoid the worst of the island’s conflict and communal tensions.

The archbishop said earlier this week that he had seen an internal security document warning of further attacks on churches and said there would be no Catholic masses celebrated anywhere on the island on Sunday.

Muslims had been urged to pray at home on Friday after the State Intelligence Services warned of possible car bomb attacks, amid fears of retaliatory violence. Many have fled their homes amid bomb scares, lockdowns and security sweeps.

NEW ISLAMIC STATE CLAIM

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombings and on Saturday it issued a new claim for a gunbattle that erupted on the east coast on Friday during a raid by security forces on a safehouse.

It said three of its members clashed with Sri Lankan police for several hours before detonating their explosive vests during the gunbattle, the militant group’s news agency Amaq said.

The group said 17 policemen were killed or injured in the attack. It did not give any evidence.

Sri Lanka’s military said 15 people were killed during the raid including three wearing suicide vests and six children. Among the wounded were relatives of Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Zahran, the alleged mastermind of the suicide bombings.

On Saturday Sri Lanka’s president outlawed two Islamist groups suspected to be behind the suicide bombings: the National Thawheedh Jamaath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim.

Police believe Zahran led either the NTJ or a splinter group. Less is known about Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim, whose members are also believed to have played a role in the bombings.

(Reuters)

Top Stories

Trump says protesters would have met ‘vicious dogs’ if White House fence breached

U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday said demonstrators protesting the death of a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on...

Paphos: Police publish photos of stolen valuables

  Police have found jewellery, watches and other valuables in the possession of a 22 year old and a 15 year old who are under...

Protests flare around the United States over Minneapolis killing

Violent protests flared overnight in several U.S. cities as demonstrators vented their anger over the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died...

Just one new Covid-19 case on Saturday; total at 943

  One person has tested positive for coronavirus from a total of 2061 tests, the Health Ministry said on Saturday, bringing the total since the...

Paphos: 10 hotels to reopen in June

  Ten of the 57 hotels in the Paphos district are expected to reopen in June, the president of the Paphos branch of the Cyprus...

Taste

Local cuisine: An introduction

Rich in fresh ingredients and tasty herbs, offers the very best of Mediterranean culinary delights. Head out to a tavern and feast on a...

Spiced lamb with beetroot salad and scented yoghurt

Lay the lamb on a tray, skin side down. Rub with crushed garlic, sprinkle with spices and ground pistachios, wrap in plastic wrap and...

Easy seafood pasta with white wine sauce

Ingredients: 2-3 tbsp olive oil 1 garlic clove, chopped 2-3 tablespoons of whipped cream 1/3 cup white wine 300g spaghetti, roughly broken 300-400g of...

Traditional salads that will blow your mind away

This traditional salads will make you actually love salads! Cyprus may be famous for souvla and kleftiko but if you try the traditional salads with...