Sri Lanka explosions: World leaders condemn bombings, express condolences

Pope Francis condemned the deadly bomb blasts that ripped through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, calling it "cruel violence".
Security officers gathering at the scene of an explosion at St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, on April 21, 2019.
Security officers gathering at the scene of an explosion at St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, on April 21, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

COLOMBO • Religious and world leaders have condemned a series of blasts in Sri Lanka that killed more than 200 people yesterday, 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.

"Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels," US President Donald Trump tweeted, adding: "We stand ready to help!"

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of neighbouring India said his thoughts were with the bereaved families. "There is no place for such barbarism in our region," he tweeted. "India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka."

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."

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 in Sri Lanka as "devastating".

 
 
 
 

"New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on March 15. To see an attack in Sri Lanka while people were in churches and at hotels is devastating," she said.

"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."

Pope Francis expressed his sadness over the attacks during 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," he said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement: "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."

Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali said: "We strongly condemn these senseless attacks and call for swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Malaysian Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar also called for action against the "senseless and brutal attacks".

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his "horror and sadness" at the blasts, while European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the attacks marked "a truly sad day for the country and for the world".

"Such acts of violence on this holy day are acts of violence against all beliefs and denominations, and against all those who value the freedom of religion and the choice to worship," she added in a statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron also expressed deep sorrow over the terrorist attacks.

"We firmly condemn these heinous acts. All our solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and our thoughts go out to all victims' relatives on this Easter Day," he said on Twitter.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2019, with the headline 'World leaders condemn bombings, express condolences'. Print Edition | Subscribe