'Easter massacre': How the world reacted to Sri Lanka terror attacks

Telegraph Reporters
The Daily Telegraph, Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror, and Spain's ABC newspapers

Religious and world leaders have condemned a series of blasts in Sri Lanka that killed almost 300 people on Sunday, including dozens of foreigners - with British, Dutch and American citizens among them.

Images of the carnage features on front pages around the world amid horror at what was frequently called the  "Easter massacre". 

Here is a round-up of how the world reacted.

Sri Lanka

The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called on Sri Lanka's government to "mercilessly" punish those responsible "because only animals can behave like that."

While there have been attacks on Christians, their community had been left relatively unscathed until now.

Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror newspaper

Two Muslim groups in Sri Lanka also condemned the church attacks.

The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said it mourned the loss of innocent people in the blasts by extremists who seek to divide religious and ethnic groups.

The All Ceylon Jammiyyathul Ulama a body of Muslim clerics, said targeting Christian places of worship cannot be accepted.

Sri Lanka's Daily Lankadeepa

Rucki Fernando, a Christian Sri Lankan, told AFP: "We haven't experienced anything like this in the last 10 years."

"There is a lot of fear, not just in the Christian community, but among everyone," he added.

Sri Lanka's Minister of Economic Reforms, Harsha de Silva, described "horrible scenes" at St Anthony's church.

"I saw many body parts strewn all over," he tweeted.

Catholic Church

Pope Francis denounced the "cruel violence" of the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka and is praying for all those who are suffering from the bloodshed.

The Pope added an appeal at the end of his traditional Easter Sunday blessing to address the massacre which killed more than 130 people.

Speaking from the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope said: "I want to express my loving closeness to the Christian community, targeted while they were gathered in prayer, and all the victims of such cruel violence."

He added: "I entrust to the Lord all those who were tragically killed and pray for the injured and all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event."

The Catholic Church in Jerusalem said the blasts were particularly sad as they "came while Christians celebrate Easter".

"We pray for the souls of the victims and ask for speedy recovery of the injured, and ask God to inspire the terrorists to repent of their killing and intimidation," the statement said.

"We also express our solidarity with Sri Lanka and all its inhabitants in their various religious and ethnic backgrounds."

Britain

Prime Minister Theresa May described the attacks as "truly appalling".

"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," she tweeted.

"We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear."

The Daily Telegraph

James Dauris, Britain's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, was attending an Easter Day church service in Colombo that was cut short by the attacks. He visited UK nationals in hospital in the capital and called the attacks "evil".

Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Secretary, said: "I'm deeply shocked and saddened by the horrifying attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka today, and the tragic news of more than 200 people killed, including several British nationals.

"To target those gathered for the simple act of worship on Easter Sunday is unspeakably wicked.

The Guardian

"Everyone has a right to practise their faith in peace, safety and security but tragedies like this, and the one in Christchurch, remind us that there are some who hate these rights and freedoms.

"These despicable acts were carried out at a time when millions of Christians celebrate Easter while living under the shadow of persecution. Many gather in churches at risk of attack; countless more will have suffered threats or discrimination.

"The UK stands in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world and with the government and people of Sri Lanka. My prayers are with all the victims and their families."

The Independent

Mr Hunt said there was "lots of speculation at the moment but there is no hard knowledge" about the perpetrators of the atrocity and "we obviously need to wait for the police in Sri Lanka to do their work".

He said the UK would offer Sri Lanka support in the days to come.

"If there is any help that the UK can give, we would want to give it," he said.

Daily Mirror

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for "unity, love and respect" to combat hatred.

He said: "I'm appalled by the horrific attacks in Sri Lanka, on Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian calendar."

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: "On this holy day, let us stand with the people of Sri Lanka in prayer, condolence and solidarity as we reject all violence, all hatred and all division."

Europe

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the wave of bombings against Sri Lankan churches and tourist spots, urging that the "religious hate and intolerance that have showed themselves in such a terrible way today must not win".

"It is shocking that people who gathered to celebrate Easter together were consciously targeted in this malicious attack," Merkel said in a condolence telegram published by a spokesman on Twitter.

Le Figaro

French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter: "We strongly condemn these odious acts. 

"Full solidarity with the Sri Lanka people and our thoughts for all those close to the victims this Easter."

"Terrible reports from Sri Lanka about bloody attacks on hotels and churches on this Easter Sunday," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted after the attacks first emerged.

"Thoughts are with the victims and their relatives."

Spain's ABC newspaper

EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his "horror and sadness" at the attacks.

"It was with horror and sadness that I heard of the bombings in Sri Lanka costing the lives of so many people," Juncker said on Twitter, adding that the European Union stood ready to help.

"I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who had gathered to worship peacefully or come to visit this beautiful country," Juncker said.

United States

Donald Trump sent his "heartfelt condolences ... to the people of Sri Lanka" after the "horrible terrorist attacks".

"We stand ready to help!" he added in the tweet.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "several" Americans were killed and that "these vile attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism".

"[Targeting] innocent people gathering in a place of worship or enjoying a holiday meal are affronts to the universal values and freedoms that we hold dear," he said.

The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops condemned "this great evil".

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo in a statement offers prayers for the victims and says the attack cannot "overcome the hope" found in the holiday.

Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia was thinking of those killed in a "horrific terrorist attack".

"To the beautiful people of Sri Lanka, Australia sends its heartfelt sympathies and our prayers and our support - and our offer to do whatever we can to support you in this terrible time of need," he said in a statement.

"At this time as Easter Sunday draws to a conclusion here in Australia, our heart goes out to those Christians and all of those other innocents who have been slaughtered today in this horrific terrorist attack."

New Zealand

A month after dozens of Muslims were killed in a shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the attack as "devastating".

"New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on the 15th of March. To see an attack in Sri Lanka while people were in churches and at hotels is devastating.

"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."

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