Sri Lanka mass cancelled over fresh attack fears

2019-05-02 17:25
A Sri Lankan priest (C) holds up an unharmed statue, which allegedly was inside the prayer hall when a bomb went off on Easter Sunday. (Lakruwan Wanniarachchi, AFP)

A Sri Lankan priest (C) holds up an unharmed statue, which allegedly was inside the prayer hall when a bomb went off on Easter Sunday. (Lakruwan Wanniarachchi, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sri Lanka's Catholic Church scrapped plans to resume Sunday services following a "specific threat" against two religious locations after the deadly Easter attacks.

The archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, said on Thursday that a "reliable foreign source" had alerted him to possible attacks this weekend.

"The information we have from a reliable foreign source is that attackers are planning to hit a very famous church and a Catholic institution," the Cardinal said in a statement. He did not name the source.

He also said that Catholic schools which were due to re-open after an extended Easter vacation on Monday would now remain shut "until further notice".

Sri Lankan authorities had advance warnings from Indian intelligence of the impending Easter attacks in which 257 people died, but police and security forces ignored them.

'Searched and safe'

However, the government said all 10 194 public schools will reopen on Monday amid tight police and military security, with at least one armed guard outside each one.

"We have been assured that all schools will be searched and safe for us to resume the new school term," Education Minister Akila Kariyawasam told reporters in Colombo.

Last Sunday, a week after the April 21 attacks, all public masses were cancelled and Cardinal Ranjith conducted a private memorial service for the victims that was broadcast live on television.

Armed guards have been stationed outside churches, Buddhist temples and mosques across the country since the April 21 attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels.

All political parties scrapped May 1 rallies amid fears of bomb blasts.

The Cardinal has also been given several bodyguards and a large security contingent but returned a bullet-proof limousine given to him by the government.

"I am not afraid. I don't need bullet-proof vehicles to go about. The Lord is my protector," he said. "But I want security for my people, and for the country."

Ranjith said he had concerns about the progress of security operations against jihadists behind the worst single-day attack against civilians in the country's history.

Police say they have arrested more than 150 suspects since the attacks and have accounted for all six jihadi suspects who were declared as most-wanted.

Two suspects have been killed while four others were in custody, police said.

President Maithripala Sirisena announced on Friday that the authorities believed there were 140 Islamic State-inspired jihadists in Sri Lanka and he had ordered security forces to track them down.

The Easter attacks were blamed on the local National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) whose leader was among the suicide bombers. The group had pledged an oath of allegiance to the Islamic State group.

No rites

Meanwhile, police said Muslim clerics had refused to preform burial rites for 10 Muslim radicals who were killed during a confrontation with security forces in the island's east last week.

Three suicide bombers killed themselves and three women and six children inside an Islamist safe house near the town of Kalmunai. Another four people defending the house were shot dead by security forces.

"No relatives or clerics agreed to perform the final rites, so the police took steps to bury them," spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

The six children were spared that fate, he added.

Clerics have previously said they would not undertake last rites for any of the suicide bombers involved in the attacks.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    sri lanka
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.