Sri Lanka commemorates second anniversary of deadly Easter Sunday terror attacks

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Colombo, Apr 21 (PTI) Sri Lanka on Wednesday commemorated the second anniversary of the Easter Sunday terror attacks by observing a two-minute silence to remember the victims of the coordinated suicide blasts in 2019 - one of the deadliest attacks in the country's history.

Nine suicide bombers belonging to local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) linked to ISIS carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels on April 21, 2019, killing 258 people, including 11 Indians.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa observed the two minutes silence at his official residence in Colombo in honour of the victims of the blasts.

“Held two minutes of silence in remembrance of all those who were victims of the #EasterSundayAttack two years ago,” Prime Minister Rajapaksa tweeted.

Sri Lankan lawmakers who were all dressed in black also observed silence in the parliament complex.

Addressing the main memorial service held at the St Anthony’s Church, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, said that the authorities had failed so far to identify the real perpetrators of the crime.

“We will continue with our struggle to give justice to those who died and those who are still suffering from injuries or are bed-ridden and on wheelchairs,” Cardinal Ranjith said as he blamed the relaxed approach of the former and the current government for slow investigations.

Cardinal Ranjith has already expressed disappointment over the findings of the government probe panel and demanded action against those named in the report for their negligence to stop the attacks despite having prior intelligence.

The memorial service was attended by leaders of all religions.

Special police protection was provided to all churches where memorial services were held.

The main events were held at the St Anthony’s church in north Colombo and the St Sebastian’s church in Negombo – the two of the three churches devastated by the suicide attacks two years ago. Cardinal Ranjith said the church was prepared to forgive the perpetrators. “But before thinking of forgiving, we must know the truth”.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said that the Attorney General has already started proceedings to bring to book those responsible and there was no government interference in that.

Cardinal Ranjith had vowed to take drastic action if the real culprits were not dealt with by the second anniversary of the attacks on April 21. PTI Corr NSA ZH NSA