World leaders have expressed their solidarity with the Sri Lankan people and voiced their horror at a series of explosions at churches and luxury hotelsthat killed more than 200 people and injured hundreds during Easter services.
Pope Francis condemned the attacks as “cruel violence” in an Easter address on Sunday and held prayers for the victims.
The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, and the Pakistani leader, Imran Khan, both said their countries stood shoulder to shoulder with Sri Lanka after the attacks. The US president, Donald Trump, offered the condolences of the American people and said his country stood ready to help.
The UK prime minister, Theresa May, condemned the attacks as “truly appalling” and expressed her sympathies to those affected.
“The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time. We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear,” she tweeted.
Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, said her country condemned all acts of terrorism and their resolve had only been strengthened by the far-right attack on two mosques in Christchurch last month.
“New Zealand rejects all forms of extremism and stands for freedom of religion and the right to worship safely. Collectively we must find the will and the answers to end such violence,” she said in a statement.
Addressing a crowd in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican during his Easter message, Pope Francis said: “I learned with sadness and pain of the news of the grave attacks, that precisely today, Easter, brought mourning and pain to churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka.”
“I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, hit while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.”
The European council president, Donald Tusk, said it was a “tragic Easter in Sri Lanka” and said his thoughts were with the families of those killed in the wave of attacks.
The EU commission head, Jean-Claude Juncker,said: “It was with horror and sadness that I heard of the bombings in Sri Lanka costing the lives of so many people. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who had gathered to worship peacefully or come to visit this beautiful country. We stand ready to support.”
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also expressed outrage at the blasts.
“Deep sorrow following the terrorist attacks against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. We firmly condemn these heinous acts. All our solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and our thoughts go out to all victims’ relatives on this Easter Day,” Macron said on Twitter.
Merkel wrote in a letter of condolence to Sri Lanka’s president Maithripala Sirisena: “It is shocking that people who had gathered to celebrate Easter were the deliberate target of vicious attacks.”
In a statement on social media, Khan said: “Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost and hundreds injured. My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief.”
Modi said: “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. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured.”
Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin,described the bombings as “an attack on us all”. “The attacks in Sri Lanka, including those at prayer celebrating Easter Sunday are a despicable crime. We are all children of God; an attack on one religion is an attack on us all,” he said in a post on social media. (The Guardian, UK)