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Sri Lanka engulfed in a series of attacks during Easter celebrations

At least 200 people were killed in a series of attacks that targeted three churches, hotels and police agents in Sri Lanka.

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At least 200 people were killed in a series of attacks in Sri Lanka. / Ph. DR

As Christian communities celebrate Easter, Sri Lanka is mourning the death of several christian worshipers and civilians. On Sunday, several explosions rocked churches and a hotel in the country, killing at least 207 people and wounding more than 450 people, mostly worshipers who were celebrating mass this particular Sunday during religious holidays. According to the police, this toll could increase in the coming hours, given the violence of the attacks.

Indeed, AFP explains that the explosions occurred in two stages. The first six explosions targeted three churches, including the St. Anthony and San Sebastián Shrine in Negombo, north of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, and Batticaloa, east of the island. A few hours later, two more explosions occurred, one in a hotel complex in Dehiwela (south of Colombo) killing two people and the other killing three policemen in a suicide bombing attack.

Country bracing for attacks for days

In the process, the Ministry of Defense issued a 12-hour curfew beginning at 6 pm (local time). Social networks have been blocked by the government, as a preventative measure against the proliferation of false information.

While the terrorist attacks have not yet been claimed, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe speaks of «cowardly attacks». The head of the national police Pujuth Jayasundara, explains he had alerted his services ten days ago on an Islamist movement called NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama'ath) projecting «suicide bombings against important churches and the Indian High Commission».

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena expressed his shock, while, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said on Twitter that the attacks had killed «many innocents [in] a coordinated attempt to cause murder, chaos and lawlessness».

Calls to «punish without mercy» the guilty

On 20minutes, the archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Ranjith, calls on the government to «carry out a solid and impartial investigation to determine who is responsible for this act and also to punish them mercilessly, because only animals can behave as such». He also calls on his fellow citizens to «peace and harmony» and «not to do justice themselves».

Indeed, the government has not yet given much information on the modus operandi of these attacks, but according to the police and witnesses, at least three suicide bombers are involved. In the luxury hotel Cinnamon Grand in particular, one of them would have activated his bomb «in the queue of customers waiting to enter for an Easter buffet in a restaurant of the establishment». Among the victims, thirty were foreign nationals.

The attacks sparked a series of international reactions, particularly in the United Kingdom where Prime Minister Theresa May sent her «most sincere condolences to all those affected». French President Emmanuel Macron says he condemns «firmly» these «odious acts». For her part, the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini said that «such acts of violence on this holy day are acts of violence against all beliefs».

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that «the religious hatred and intolerance that have come out in a terrible way today must not prevail», while offering her condolences. For his part, US President Donald Trump condemned these «horrific terrorist attacks».

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