A series of coordinated attacks on churches, including two Catholics churches and on protestant, as well as luxurious hotels were done by assassins on Easter Sunday. In churches there were religious services taking place, in hotels – meals, there were a lot of people, the more killed there were.

Their number was growing, there was information that over 150, 200, 350 people died. And although it turned out that there were less killed, surely about 260 people (in addition a few hundred wounded), it is only a partially comforting information. Nobody multiplied the number of victims, and the decreased balance of victims was explained with imprecise information from mortuaries.

There are so many bodies that it is difficult to give a precise number of the killed – a chief of Sri Lankan health care explained journalists. – It looked like during the war.

The Tamils and Syngaliezi

On Sri Lanka the civil war which lasted for over 25 years, is remembered perfectly. The sides of the conflict were Buddhist Syngalezi and mostly Hindu Tamils. In 1976 an organization Tamil Tigers was founded, which demanded creating a separate state – Tamil Illam in northern part of the island.

The war broke out in 1983 and the Tamils succeeded. For a long time the northern-eastern part of the island was an independent state. In 2000 governmental armies prevailed over the Tigers and pushed them aside towards the north. In 2009 the Tamil Tigers announced submission of the arms. Exactly 10 years ago in May the war ended, which had bought death to about 100 thousand people. The Easter attacks had been the strongest on Sri Lanka since the end of the war.

A calm man

A film from cameras from outside the church of St. Sebastian in Negombo shows a young man with beard, wearing a light blue shirt, carrying a rucksack, and who is walking peacefully across a courtyard outside the church. He is nearly bumping into a little girl walking with a man and is patting the girl’s shoulder saying sorry.

It is seen how the man is bending forward under the weight of his rucksack, which may prove a high weight of the carried load. Finally he enters the church and is making a few steps to the altar. As one can assume, because it is not seen on the film which is – he is detonates a bomb. The bomb killed most of the people among those who lost their life because of the Easter assassinations.

The little girl survived, she was identified. She was with her grandpa, 66-year-old retired man who had arrived with his granddaughter at the church, but noticing that it was crowded, he decided that they would somewhere else. It saved them life; others were not so lucky.

The effect of the war

When foreigners – beside local Christians – became the target of the Easter attacks (among fatal victims there were about 40 foreigners – from India, Turkey, Great Britain, Portugal, the USA and Denmark), tourists began to leave Sri Lanka and others began to cancel their journeys. This is a catastrophe for this poor country.

Touristic branch, which gives Sri Lanka about 5 percent of the National Gross Product, will surely be disadvantaged. Last year this country was visited by 2.5 million tourists.

The war strengthened ethnic and religious conflicts in the country which is mostly Buddhist but it has also got lots of ethnic minorities of the Hindus, Muslims and Christians, being respectively about 12.4, 10 and 7.5 percent citizens. A number of the Catholics in this country of 21-million population is estimated to about 1.2 million.

Eight explosions

The explosions taking place in churches and hotels nearly at the same time – and at Easter – showed that the target of the attacks was the world of the West. The assassinations were to be popular all over the world – and indeed it happened so. The place was chosen not accidentally: the country is not organized well.

The assassinations are under the responsibility of a group connected with the global jihad. It is logical, the Muslims and Christians are the minority here and both groups share a difficult fate. There is no reason for local Muslims to choose the Christians as the target of the attacks. Local Islamic groups – a few dozen Islamists have already been arrested on Sri Lanka – have the Buddhist society as their target.

Ethnic origin and religion were often the reason for conflicts between Buddhist Syngalezi, Hindu Tamils and the Muslims, but the Chrsitians have rarely been the target of attacks. Attacking them, in addition at Easter, must have been shocking on the island.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 18/2019 (5 V 2019)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl