Today, Pope Francis condemned the attacks that killed at least 138 people after simultaneous bombing in four hotels and three churches in Sri Lanka as “such cruel violence.” He also said he was close to the Christian community that was hit while celebrating Easter.
Hospital and police officials said that the blasts wounded more than 400 people, It followed a hiatus in major attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago.
Pope Francis told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square to hear his Easter Sunday “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message. He stated: “I learned with sadness and pain of the news of the grave attacks, that precisely today, Easter, brought mourning and pain to churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka.”
He added: “I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, hit while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.” The Pope was able to visit Sri Lanka in 2015.
He stated: “I entrust to the Lord those who have tragically died and I pray for the wounded and for all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event.”
The news agency of the Government of Sri Lanka reports that as of 6 p.m. local time at least 11 foreigners have died, 19 are injured, and nine are reported missing.
Some photos from the blast sites showed some broken pews in disarray, statues covered in ash and blood, and shattered glass. A spokesperson of the local police said that 13 suspects have already been arrested.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, condemned the attacks. He also urged the people to “avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation.”
During a press conference, Wickremesing disclosed that some parts of the government had some prior information regarding the attacks, however, he did not elaborate beyond acknowledging that “information was there.”
According to the news portal of the Sri Lankan government, all social media has been blocked in the country to avoid the spread of false news reports in light of the bombings.
So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.