Wave of attacks against Christians in Sri Lanka

Wave of attacks against Christians in Sri Lanka

Easter brought no respite from attacks on Christians as up to 156 people were reported killed in a series of attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.

Hundreds more were injured according to police and hospital sources.

At least six explosions have been reported. Three churches in Kochchikade, Negombo and Batticaloa were targeted during Easter Sunday liturgies.

The Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels, all in the capital Colombo, were also hit.

No group has yet claimed responsibility, however officials have been concerned that militants from the so-called Islamic State group returning from the Middle East could pose a threat in the country.

According to the BBC, the Church of St Sebastian in Negombo was severely damaged. Images on social media showed its inside, with a shattered ceiling and blood on the pews. At least 67 people are reported to have died there.

There were also heavy casualties too at St Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, a district of Colombo.

Rumours have been reported of more attacks and police have told people to stay inside their houses and remain calm.

There are approximately 1.2 million Catholics in Sri Lanka representing around 6.1% of the total population.

The attacks are the latest wave of violence against Christians. The UK Foreign Office estimates that some 215 million Christians faced discrimination and violence this year because of their faith. According to Aid to the Church in Need, violence against Christians is rising dramatically, with an average of 250 killed every month – a doubling of last year’s figure.

The Irish embassy in India, which is accredited to Sri Lanka, said that people concerned about Irish citizens who may have been caught up in the attacks can contact the New Delhi embassy on+91.114.9403.200, the Honorary Consulate in Colombo at + or the Department of Foreign Affairs Dublin on +353.1.408.2000.