May 24, 2019
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South Asia shocked over deadly Sri Lanka attacks

Colombo, Apr 21 (efe-epa).- South Asian leaders on Sunday condemned a series of deadly bomb attacks in Sri Lanka.

At least 185 people, including nine foreigners, were killed and more than 400 others were wounded in the blasts at churches and luxury hotels in Colombo.

Politicians took to social media in response to the atrocities on Easter Sunday.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted: "Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost & hundreds injured.

"My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren.

"Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief."

Indian President Ramnath Kovind said: "India condemns the terror attacks in Sri Lanka and offers its condolences to the people and government of the country.

"Such senseless violence, aimed at innocent people, has no place in civilized society. We stand in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his thoughts are with the victims and their families.

He posted: "Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka.

"There is no place for such barbarism in our region.

"India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka."

Immediately after the attack, India's foreign minister offered support to Indian nationals in Colombo.

"Indians in distress may please contact Indian High Commission in Colombo. We will provide you all assistance," she tweeted, along with helpline numbers.

KP Sharma Oli, prime minister of Nepal, posted: "I am deeply saddened by multiple bomb blasts and killings of innocent people in Sri Lanka.

"I express my condolence with Rt. Hon'ble Ranil Wickramasinghe, PM of SriLanka and bereaved families of victims of brutality. I wish speedy recovery of the injured."

The blasts ripped through the capital at 8.45 am on Easter Sunday, in the worst attack the country has seen since the end of a long-running civil war in 2009.

Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena issued a message to the nation after the attacks, asking people to stay calm.

"I am shocked and saddened by the situation that has occurred," he said.

"Investigations have been launched to look into what conspiracy is behind this heinous act.

"Please remain calm and do not be fooled by rumors."

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tweeted: "I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today.

"I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong.

"Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation."

Harsha de Silva, minister of economic reforms and public distribution, said that the country's National Security Council would be holding an emergency meeting.

He said later that Wickremesinghe had met with ministers and senior military personnel.

"All measures taken to maintain peace. Security tightened. Please stay calm. Please act responsibly. Please NO politics. We must all act together as Sri Lanka citizens. My condolences to all families who lost loved ones," he tweeted.

Silva, along with the defense secretary, visited some of the attack sites and described the carnage he saw.

"Horrible scenes. I saw many body parts strewn all over. Emergency crews are at all locations in full force."

He added: "We took multiple casualties to hospital. Hopefully saved many lives."

Images circulated by local media showed the magnitude of the explosion in one of the churches, where the ceiling had been partially destroyed, and corpses were strewn among the rubble, while people tried to look for survivors.

Christians in Sri Lanka had been celebrating Easter Sunday, an important festival marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the culmination of week-long festivities.

There have been a number of attacks against religious minorities on the island in the past.

In 2018, the government declared a state of emergency after violent clashes erupted between Muslims and the majority Sinhalese Buddhists, leading to two deaths and dozens of arrests.

Christians form around seven percent of the Sri Lankan population, with Buddhists accounting for around 70 percent, followed by smaller numbers of Hindus and Muslims. EFE-EPA

nb/rb

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