Sri Lanka’s highest-ranking Catholic leader condemned the Easter jihadist attacks as “an insult to humanity” at a private Mass attended by the nation’s president and prime minister Sunday.
“Today during this Mass we are paying attention to last Sunday’s tragedy and we try to understand it,” said the archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, during his homily in the chapel at his residence.
“We pray that in this country there will be peace and co-existence and understanding each other without division,” the cardinal said in the service that was broadcast on national television.
“What happened last Sunday is a great tragedy, an insult to humanity,” he added, in reference to last Sunday’s multiple suicide bombings targeting Christian churches as well as several high-end hotels.
Earlier this week, church officials announced that all Sunday Masses would be cancelled to avoid a repeat of the attacks that killed over 250 people.
Cardinal Ranjith said that church officials had been privy to a leaked security document describing Catholic churches and other denominations as major targets for attackers, which prompted him to cancel all Masses for the sake of the safety of the faithful.
“We don’t want repetitions,” Ranjith said.
Thousands of armed Sri Lankan troops continue to patrol the streets and security forces made new arrests in connection with the bombings late Saturday, bringing the total number of arrestees to over 100.
The two new detainees, Mohamed Saadik Abdul Haq and Mohamed Saahid Abdul Haq, were reportedly on a list of six “most wanted” Islamic radicals.
Schools across Sri Lanka have been closed all week and will not be opened for at least another week, officials said. A nationwide curfew is also in effect from 10.00pm to 4.00am.
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