Easter Horror in Sri Lanka: Churches and Hotels Bombed, Death Toll Tops 200

Please join us in praying for the survivors and the nation of Sri Lanka.

St. Sebastian's Church in the aftermath of an Easter 2019 terrorist attack, one of a series to hit churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.

By The Stream Published on April 21, 2019

“It was a river of blood.”

On the holiest day in the Christian calendar, at least eight simultaneous bombings struck worshippers at three churches in Sri Lanka, along with three luxury hotels.

The death toll is 207 people and rising. Sri Lankan officials report an additional 450 are injured. 

Churches throughout the country have been placed on alert, with many canceling Easter services.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera called the explosions “a well-coordinated attempt to create murder, mayhem and anarchy.”

This is the worst violence to hit Sri Lanka since the end of its civil war 10 years ago. Thus far, no group has claimed responsibility for the bombings. Sri Lanka’s defense minister Ruwan Wijewardene reports seven people have been detained in connection to the attacks. 

Shangri-La Hotel, Cinnamon Grand Hotel, and Kingsbury Hotel, all in Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo, were targeted in the bombings. All are popular with foreigners, reports ABC News.

Three Churches Targeted

In Negombo, a majority Catholic town north of Colombo, the explosion ripped the roof off St. Sebastian’s church, knocking out doors and windows. Images from the scene show people carrying the wounded away from blood-stained pews. 81 worshippers were killed, ABC News is reporting. St. Sebastian’s is crying out for help on its Facebook page

St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo and Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa was also struck. ABC News confirms at least 24 were killed at St. Anthony’s and 27 were lost at Zion Church. 

The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called on Sri Lanka’s government to launch a “very impartial strong inquiry” and to punish those found responsible “mercilessly because only animals can behave like that.

Sri Lanka has a long history with Christianity dating back to the Apostles. Christian tradition holds that St. Thomas the Apostle visited Sri Lanka and southern India in the decades after the death of Christ.

The majority of the island’s Christians are Roman Catholic.

Pope Francis Responds

Pope Francis responded to the terrorist attack during his Easter message. The Associated Press reports:

Speaking from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis said, “I want to express my loving closeness to the Christian community, targeted while they were gathered in prayer, and all the victims of such cruel violence.”

“I entrust to the Lord all those who were tragically killed and pray for the injured and all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event,” the pope added.

President Trump: “We Stand Ready to Help!”

President Donald Trump joined other world leaders in condemning attack. “The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka,” he tweeted. “We stand ready to help!

Please join The Stream in praying for the victims of this heinous attack, and the families of those martyred. We pray that those injured will be healed, and those guilty will be brought to justice. We pray also that further violence will be thwarted and that Christ’s Resurrection power will ignite that island nation. 

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