Sri Lanka explosions: Attacks aim to create hatred, says President Halimah

People carrying victims of the explosion at St Anthony's Church to ambulances, in Colombo on April 21, 2019.
People carrying victims of the explosion at St Anthony's Church to ambulances, in Colombo on April 21, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

The terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka are aimed at creating conflicts and hatred among communities, President Halimah Yacob said yesterday, offering condolences to the families of the victims and the injured.

"An occasion of peace and worship with families and friends has been turned into a carnage. These vile acts of violence by extremists are absolutely shocking and are aimed at creating conflicts and hatred among the communities," she wrote on Facebook.

"We must continue to stay vigilant and united against such acts of terrorism. Our prayers for all those affected and for the people of Sri Lanka."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressed horror over the heinous attacks in a Facebook post.

"Singapore condemns such senseless acts of violence. We stand firmly behind Sri Lanka in its efforts to preserve the hard-wrought peace and stability," he wrote. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Sri Lanka. May they find strength and unity to overcome this adversity together."

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said he was "heartbroken by the senseless violence" across Sri Lanka.

"Such dastardly acts of violence are deeply reprehensible, especially on a day of joy and hope for Christians. Our prayers go out to the victims and their families," he said in a Facebook post on Monday (April 22).  

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement that the Singapore Government strongly condemns the heinous acts of violence in Sri Lanka, adding that there were no reports of Singaporean casualties in the incidents so far.

The Singapore Honorary Consulate-General in Colombo is in close contact with the Sri Lankan authorities and is monitoring the situation closely, the statement added. "Singaporeans in Colombo should remain vigilant, follow the advice of the local authorities, stay in touch with their family and friends so that they know you are safe," it said.

The statement said Singaporeans who require consular assistance can contact the Honorary Consulate-General in Colombo or the 24-hour MFA Duty Office.

 
 
 

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam said in a Facebook post that given the nature of the attack, it was not possible to rule out terrorism. He noted that the world was witnessing such terrible actions every few weeks.

"Those who planned the attack, those who carried it out, must face the most severe punishments. It is difficult to think of a worse form of human beings - killing people who go to pray, spread hatred and terror. The ideology that spread the hate must be dealt with," he wrote.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli lamented that the multiple bombings on churches and hotels took place on a day when Christians were observing Easter Sunday.

"I am saddened by the loss of innocent lives in Sri Lanka. Quick on the heels of an attack on Muslim worshippers doing Friday prayers in Christchurch, we now have news of the blasts at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka while Christians observe Easter Sunday," he wrote.

"We should be outraged by anyone attacking innocents at religious congregations. My deepest condolences to our Christian friends, who will feel the most hurt."

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) issued a statement strongly condemning the killing of innocent people.

"We are deeply saddened to see another act of terror on places of worship and on peaceful worshippers. Such despicable acts of violence have no place in society, and we stand in solidarity with the affected communities," the statement said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2019, with the headline 'Attacks aim to create hatred, says President Halimah'. Print Edition | Subscribe