A series of terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka targeted Christians at Easter church services yesterday, along with hotels containing international travelers.
Suicide bombers behind the attacks caused six explosions, killing at least 290 people and injuring at least 500. Another two bombers apparently detonated their bombs as they were attempting to evade police. A bomb was also found, and subsequently defused, at the country’s main airport in the capital of Colombo.
In response, the government has arrested those believed responsible (24 so far), imposed curfews, cut off social media sites, and warned that further attacks may be possible.
The attack at St. Sebastian’s Catholic Church in the town of Katuwapitiya, north of the capital, was particularly horrific. Pictures show destroyed pews and blood on the walls. Witnesses to the attack there reported that the suicide bomber entered near the end of Mass and detonated his bomb shortly afterwards. These survivors who witnessed the attack had been praying outside the church due to the large crowds gathered inside for Easter services; had they been inside, they likely would have been among the dead.
St. Sebastian, the namesake of this particular church, was a Christian martyr in the late 3rd century AD. He was killed for his faith during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Diocletian. Yesterday, many Christians in Sri Lanka joined him as witnesses to their faith as they celebrated the resurrection of the Lord and looked forward to their own bodily resurrections.