Sri Lankan Catholics Attend First Sunday Mass Since Attacks

14 Mai, 2019, 06:54 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Sri Lankan Muslim man prays at the Dawatagaha Jumma Masjid during Friday noon prayers in Colombo. — AFP  File

Soldiers armed with automatic assault rifles guarded St Theresa's church in Colombo's Thimbirigasyaya district, doing body searches of worshippers for explosives, and not allowing any vehicles into the church auto park.

In Sri Lanka, Catholic churches held their Sunday prayers for the first time since Easter Sunday attacks which killed over 250 people including 45 foreigners.

Worshippers are frisked as they enter a church in Colombo. The church's sprawling vehicle park was kept empty as part of high-level security precautions.

Seven suicide bombers struck two Catholic and one Protestant church and three luxury hotels in the attacks last month.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith held mass in Colombo's St. Theresa's Church Sunday after resorting in recent weeks to televised broadcasts from his residence to reach out to his shocked parishioners. "Therefore, we intend to watch the situation closely and carefully", cardinal Ranjith said following a meeting between the country's 12 bishops and President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo on Thursday. The congregation was made up of relatives of victims and survivors of the Easter Sunday attacks.

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At least 258 were killed and almost 500 people were wounded.

Outside Colombo, churches resumed services last week, but were guarded by local police. Catholic schools are still closed and are likely to open on Tuesday depending on security conditions. The Catholics of Sri Lanka had since been observing Mass from the confines of their homes.

State-run schools - put at more than 10,000 across Sri Lanka - resumed class last week, also under police guard and with parking restrictions, but pupil attendances have reportedly been low. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group claimed responsibility and the NTJ bombers filmed themselves making a pledge of allegiance to the elusive leader of ISIS before the attacks.

Sri Lanka's police say they have either killed or arrested all those responsible for the bombings, but that the threat of such attacks persists.

President Maithripala Sirisena has vowed to eliminate the militants and restore normality in the country which is still emerging from a 37-year Tamil separatist war that ended nearly a decade ago.

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