Sri Lanka (MNN) — Two days ago on April 21 – Easter Sunday – suicide bombers triggered nearly-simultaneous attacks in six heavily-populated locations. Associated Press lists the locations here.
Today, Sri Lankans unite in a national day of mourning to recognize more than 290 bombing victims. Many Christians lost their lives when suicide bombers targeted three churches with large congregations.
“They targeted this day, Easter Sunday, because of the vast numbers of people they could impact,” adds Joe Handley, President of Asian Access.
“Many are seeing this as an attack against humanity.”
The situation remains fluid as police investigate Sri Lanka’s worst day of violence since the civil war ended in 2009.
A national state of emergency began yesterday, which allows authorities to arrest suspects without court orders. Officials reportedly blame National Thowheed Jamath, a local group of Islamic militants, for carrying out the attack; 24 people have been arrested so far.
“Police had received warnings about [National Thowheed Jamath] but they did not think the group had the capacity to pull off this kind of terror attack, so obviously there was outside influence,” notes Handley.
“It’s just a horrific tragedy to watch unfold, and we have been trying to rally support behind our friends and the Christian community of Sri Lanka.”
How to help
As more details emerge in the coming days and weeks, please pray for Sri Lankan Christians. Pray for bombing victims’ families; ask the Lord to comfort them as they mourn the loss of their loved ones. Pray for more than 500 people who survived these attacks but were wounded.
“They (Christians) were hearing bombs right outside their church buildings, down the street, in their neighborhoods, and of course that caused fear,” Handley says.
Despite what they’ve experienced, believers are submitting their fear to God’s sovereignty and control. “They have a sense that God is doing something new in the country [and has been working] over the last few months,” he explains.
“They’re praying that this will be the ‘wake up call’ that can really catalyze the Church to be a light in society.”
Header image courtesy of Leland Francisco via Flickr.