Sri Lanka bombings: World leaders offer condolences and support after Easter Sunday blasts kill more than 200

Conrad Duncan
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Sri Lanka bombings: World leaders offer condolences and support after Easter Sunday blasts kill more than 200

World leaders have offered condolences to Sri Lanka after more than 200 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in a series of explosions at churches and hotels on Easter Sunday.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but Sri Lanka’s defence minister has blamed “religious extremists” and described the attacks as a “terrorist incident”.

He said police and military forces believe the attacks were committed by a single group and seven suspects have been arrested so far.

Although the majority of the victims were Sri Lankans, officials said around 30 people from foreign countries have been confirmed dead.

Sri Lanka’s prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, strongly condemned the “cowardly attacks” and called upon the country to “remain united and strong”, urging people not to share unverified reports and speculation.

Theresa May described the attack as “truly appalling” in a statement on Twitter.

“We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear,” she said.

Donald Trump also offered his condolences and said the United States stands ready to help Sri Lanka.

The US president’s remarks came after he’d been forced to delete an earlier tweet, in which he mistakenly wrote that “at least 138 million people” had been killed in the attacks.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern described the attacks as “devastating” and referenced the recent terrorist attack on Muslim worshippers in Christchurch in her response.

“New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on the 15 March,” she said.

“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.”

Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Vladimir Putin and Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez were among the other leaders to denounce the attacks.

In India and Pakistan, leaders offered support to Sri Lanka.

“There is no place for such barbarism in our region,” India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, said.

“India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured.”

Imran Khan, prime minister of Pakistan, strongly condemned “the horrific terrorist attack” and said Pakistan would stand with Sri Lanka “in their hour of grievance”.

At his Easter Sunday address, Pope Francis also sent support to Sri Lanka.

“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,” he said.

“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.”