Evangelical Christians from Sri Lanka’s Zion Church, which was bombed by jihadists on Easter, gathered for worship Sunday, chanting for Jesus to “save us from the Satans who are trying to destroy our nation.”
The faithful of Zion Church prayed together at a community hall in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, since their own church is undergoing repairs from the suicide bombing that claimed the lives of 29 of their fellow worshipers, including 14 children.
“Come to our protection in this world where we are being hit by waves,” the Christians sang in Tamil as they knelt on the tile floor. “Save us from the Satans who are trying to destroy our nation.”
Reuters reported that some survivors of the Easter massacre entered the hall Sunday with the help of crutches or with an eye patch and some wept.
The jihadist who attacked the congregation in Zion Church was identified as Mohamed Nasar Mohamed Asath, who stood close to a generator when setting off the bomb in his backpack to increase the impact of the explosion.
No Catholic Masses were celebrated in public Sunday to avoid the possibility of another attack. The archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, sent a letter to local church officials Thursday saying he had received “foreign information” indicating plans to attack a church and another church institution.
For his part, the cardinal said Mass in his private residence but had it broadcast over national television so the faithful could follow from their homes and join in the prayer.
Still, worship services cannot be suspended forever, and Ranjith has called on the government to amp up security measures against Islamic extremists “as if on war footing.”
“I want to state that we may not be able to keep people under control in the absence of a stronger security program,” Ranjith said. “We can’t forever give them false promises and keep them calm.”
The cardinal had already urged the government to pursue all those involved in the attacks and to “punish them mercilessly,” calling the jihadists “animals.”
“I would also like to ask the government to hold a very impartial strong inquiry and find out who is responsible behind this act and also to punish them mercilessly, because only animals can behave like that,” Ranjith said.
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