Colombo, Apr 4 (efe-epa).- Sri Lanka was celebrating the Easter Sunday amid tight security two years after serial bombings at three churches and as many luxury hotels during the festival killed 269 people, including 45 children, and injured over 400.
At 8.45 am on Sunday, loud bells rang out at the San Antonio shrine in the capital to mark the moment when the coordinated attacks on churches began, leaving behind a trail of blood in their wake.
However, the rest of the commemorative events for the tragedy will take place on the second anniversary of the event on Apr. 21, the day on which Easter was celebrated in 2021, the media director of the Archdiocese of Colombo, Jude Krishantha, told EFE.
Heavy security measures were in place around Christian places of worship, with the deployment of over 12,000 officers of the security forces including 9,000 police personnel, Deputy Inspector General Ajith Rohana told reporters earlier.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa promised in his Easter Sunday message that “national security” will be ensured.
“We will leave no room for the culprits as well as groups who are responsible for this dastardly attack to escape the arm of law. Also, the government is determined to ensure national security in order to prevent recurrence of such tragedies in the motherland,” he said.
The attacks were claimed by the local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamaat, linked to the Islamic State terror network.
Although many NTJ members have been arrested, the victims’ families have demanded that members of the security forces and government officials who allegedly ignored warnings of an imminent Islamist attack must also be punished.
A special commission appointed by the Sri Lankan government recently presented a report about the attacks to the parliament, which said that former resident Maithripala Sirisena and other high-level officials of his administration should be held responsible for “criminal negligence,” lack of action and failure to fulfill their duties in this regard.
The report recommended establishing a special high court to carry out hearings about the attack, apart from calling for regulating social media and cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist Islamist ideologies. It also suggested granting the security forces special powers to arrest those inciting ethnic and religious hatred without warrants. EFE-EPA