Please pray for Sri Lanka.

The world mourns as news circulates about multiple simultaneous suicide bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday morning.

St. Anthony’s Shrine and St. Sebastian Church were among two Catholic Churches bombed, as well as a Christian evangelical church and three hotels.

Two additional bombings occurred later in the day–one at a private home, the other at a hotel in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia.

So far, 290 people were killed and at least 500 were injured.

Most victims were Sri Lanka natives. However, there were more than 30 total foreign casualties from at least 12 countries, including India, Denmark, Spain, Australia, China, Switzerland, the United States, and several others countries.

Several children were also killed in the attacks.

One of the victims’ family members gave a testimony in the news report below:

Click here if you cannot see the video above. 

According to reports, “Authorities believe they were targeted by Islamic militants.”

Fox News reported that Sri Lanka’s health minister said the attacks “were carried out by seven suicide bombers from a local militant group named National Thowheek Jaamath.” Authorities have arrested 24 people “in connection to the blast.”

A report in the Indian Express explained that the group “preaches the puritanical form of Islam,” and they have been “pushing for Sharia law” in Sri Lanka.

Director of International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism Anne Speckhard told the New York Times,  that “these attacks appear to be quite different and look as if they came right out of the ISIS, Al Qaeda, global militant jihadist playbook.”

“These are attacks foment religious hatred by attacking multiple churches on a high religious holiday,” Speckhard added.

According to this CNN report, Christians make up only 7.4% of Sri Lanka’s population, while “70.2% of Sri Lankans identify as Buddhist, 12% Hindu and 9.7% Muslim.”

Prior Warnings

Reports also said that Sri Lanka’s officials were first warned on April 4, several weeks before the attack occurred. However, officials claim the warnings “were not clear enough to take action on.”

Harin Fernando, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Telecommunication, Digital Infrastructure facilities, Foreign Employment and Sports, tweeted that “some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence. Therefore there was a delay in action.”

He continued, “Serious action needs to be taken as to why this warning was ignored.”

Here’s his full tweet below:

@fernandoharin, Twitter

Christian Persecution More Common

According to a Fox News report, “Researchers also told the newspaper that Christians and Westerners are increasingly coming under attack by extremists in Asia and Africa.”

Another report adds, “Islamic terrorists have targeted Christians around Easter several times before.” The report explains that ISIS bombed two twin churches in Egypt in 2017, killing 45 Christians on Palm Sunday.

They also killed 75 people in 2016 after an explosion during an Easter celebration.

Sri Lanka has declared Tuesday, April 23, as a day of mourning for the country.

Pope Francis Responds

“I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka], wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence,” Pope Francis said.

He added that “the attacks have wrought grief and sorrow.”

The pope said he “entrusts to the Lord all those who have tragically perished,” and will “pray for the injured and all those who suffer as a result of this tragic event.”

Jesus, have mercy on us! Our Lady, please pray for all Sri Lanka victims!

[See also: Man Arrested for Entering St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC with Gasoline to Start Fire]

[See also: Notre Dame Aftermath: Video Reveals Stunning Detail of Cathedral’s Interior Damage]

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