SL marks quiet Easter a year after deadly bombings

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Colombo, April 12 (IANS) Sri Lanka celebrated a quiet Easter Sunday amid the coronavirus lockdown, while remembering the victims of the terror attacks that killed at least 270 people on the resurrection day last year.

People largely stayed indoors and offered prayers from home with the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, leading an Easter mass from a TV studio because of the pandemic, reports Efe news.
During his service aired on national TV, Cardinal Ranjith remembered last year’s Easter when suicide bombers hit three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, leaving a trail of death and destruction on one of the most important Christian festivals.
The Archbishop said the Catholics had forgiven these “misled youths (who) attacked our lives” that killed Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims.
“But as Catholics what did we do? We remembered Jesus Christ’s message and we should love our enemies, we forgave and showed compassion. We asked them not to do the same again,” Cardinal Ranjith said.
Sri Lanka witnessed carnage last year on April 21, when eight suicide bombers rattled the island’s minority Christian community, which makes up for nearly 7.5 per cent of the country’s total population of 21.4 million.
The attacks wounded over 500 and deepened communal tensions in Sri Lanka.
The bombings, carried out by local Islamist extremists with suspected foreign ties, was claimed by the Islamic State.
Police said that they have killed or arrested all suspects in various counter-terror operations carried out in the days after the mayhem.
The Archbishop’s House in Sri Lanka plans commemoration of those who died in the attacks on April 21.
“We planned week-long events to commemorate the Easter Sunday attacks. But because of the health situation, we have canceled most of it but the main event will be held,” Fr. Jude Chrysantha Fernando said.
Cardinal Ranjith during his televised mass urged everyone to act responsibly and not to violate restriction orders put in place to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus infection.
Sri Lanka police have so far arrested nearly 20,000 violators and seized over 5,000 vehicles since the government imposed the prohibitory orders on March 19.
The island nation has 199 confirmed COVID-19 cases so far, with seven deaths.