An ambulance is seen outside the church premises with gathered security personnel following a blast at the St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo on April 21, 2019. At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. AFP photo
World leaders have condemned a series of blasts in Sri Lanka that killed more than 200 people on Sunday, including dozens of foreigners — with British, Dutch and American citizens believed to be among them.
Hospital sources also said Japanese citizens were among those injured by the bombs which ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services.
US President Donald Trump on Sunday offered “heartfelt condolences” to the people of Sri Lanka after a series of deadly explosions at churches and hotels in the island nation killed more than 200 people.
“Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels,” he tweeted. “We stand ready to help!”
Pope Francis expressed his sadness at the deadly bomb attacks in Sri Lanka and said he stood with the victims of “such cruel violence.”
“I learned with sadness the news of the attacks which today, Easter Sunday, brought mourning and pain,” Francis said in his traditional Easter address at the Vatican.
“I want to express my affectionate closeness with the Christian community, attacked while it was at prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the “religious hate and intolerance that have showed themselves in such a terrible way today must not win”.
“It is shocking that people who gathered to celebrate Easter together were consciously targeted in this malicious attack,” Merkel said in a condolence telegram published by a spokeswoman on Twitter.
Here is a summary of the reactions:
Britain: Stand together
British Prime Minister Theresa May described the attacks as “truly appalling”.
“The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time,” she tweeted.
“We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear.”
The Netherlands: Terrible reports
“Terrible reports from Sri Lanka about bloody attacks on hotels and churches on this Easter Sunday,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted after the attacks first emerged.
“Thoughts are with the victims and their relatives.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia was thinking of those killed in a “horrific terrorist attack”.
“To the beautiful people of Sri Lanka, Australia sends its heartfelt sympathies and our prayers and our support — and our offer to do whatever we can to support you in this terrible time of need,” he said in a statement.
“At this time as Easter Sunday draws to a conclusion here in Australia, our heart goes out to those Christians and all of those other innocents who have been slaughtered today in this horrific terrorist attack.”
New Zealand: Devastating
A month after dozens of Muslims were killed in a shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the attack as “devastating”.
“New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on the 15th of March. To see an attack in Sri Lanka while people were in churches and at hotels is devastating.
“New Zealand rejects all forms of extremism and stands for freedom of religion and the right to worship safely. Collectively we must find the will and the answers to end such violence.”
Catholic Church in Holy Land: Solidarity
The Catholic Church in Jerusalem said the blasts were particularly sad as they “came while Christians celebrate Easter”.
“We pray for the souls of the victims and ask for speedy recovery of the injured, and ask God to inspire the terrorists to repent of their killing and intimidation,” the statement said.
“We also express our solidarity with Sri Lanka and all its inhabitants in their various religious and ethnic backgrounds.”