International News

Catholic churches in Sri Lanka closed until further notice

The army has deployed thousands of additional soldiers to support the police in this manhunt after the heavy jihadist Easter attacks.

The hunt for suspects continues. Until the security situation improves, all Catholic churches in Sri Lanka will remain closed. “On the advice of the security forces, we keep all the churches closed, told AFP a senior official of the local Church. There will be no public Mass until further notice. “The funeral of victims may be held during private ceremonies. The kamikazes, who killed 359 dead and wounded some 500 people, Sunday were attacking three Christian churches during Easter Mass. The country has strengthened security around churches, according to government officials. The Christian minority represents 7% of the population of the country, mostly Buddhist (70%).

Colombo is engaged in a huge hunt for suspects. Sri Lanka has made 16 new arrests in the night from Wednesday to Thursday, bringing the total number of people arrested to nearly 75 since Sunday. The army has deployed thousands of additional soldiers to support the police in this manhunt. “We are armed with the power to search, confiscate, arrest and detain under the legislation of the state of emergency, in place since Monday midnight, told AFP Brigadier General Sumith Atapattu. We participate in static guards, patrols, and help establish lines and searches during operations. “

A failure”

ISIS claimed responsibility for these attacks, posting a video of eight men pledging allegiance to it. And the authorities attribute this bloodshed to the local extremist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ). The fate of its alleged leader, Zahran Hashim, is unknown at the moment. The government announced on Wednesday that “nine suicide bombers” in total were killed during Easter Sunday. Eight were identified but their names were not revealed. On eight sites bombs exploded Sunday, three churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa and three luxury hotels in Colombo were struck in the early morning by suicide bombings. Subsequent explosions occurred at midday in two separate locations on the outskirts of Colombo.

The authorities acknowledged a “security” failure by the state, as the authorities failed to prevent this bloodbath when they had crucial prior information. A fortnight ago, a note warning that the NTJ was planning attacks, was not communicated to the prime minister and senior ministers. The alert was based on material transmitted by “a foreign intelligence agency” and had been disseminated to the police. The latter is the responsibility of President Maithripala Sirisena, who is in open conflict with the head of government, Ranil Wickremesinghe. The former had fired the second in the fall but was forced to reinvest after seven weeks of political chaos.

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