Pope Francis gave his traditional Easter message to the throngs in St. Peter’s Square and touched on the horrific terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka that have killed more than 200 people and injured hundreds more.
“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,” Pope Francis told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square to hear his Easter Sunday “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.
“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,” said Francis, who visited Sri Lanka in 2015.
“I entrust to the Lord those who have tragically died and I pray for the wounded and for all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event,” he said.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The pope was joined in condemning the attack by Vice President Mike Pence.
.@POTUS and I are monitoring the horrific attacks on those celebrating Easter in Sri Lanka. Our hearts & prayers are with the victims & their families. This atrocity is an attack on Christianity & religious freedom everywhere. No one should ever be in fear in a house of worship.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) April 21, 2019
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that “several” U.S. citizens are among the dead:
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the terror attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter morning. Attacks on 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, and demonstrate yet again the brutal nature of radical terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten peace and security.
The United States offers our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed and wishes a quick recovery to all who were injured. While many details of the attacks are still emerging, we can confirm that several U.S. citizens were among those killed. The U.S. Embassy is working tirelessly to provide all possible assistance to the American citizens affected by the attacks and their families.
These vile attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism. We stand with the Sri Lankan government and people as they confront violent extremism and have offered our assistance as they work to bring the perpetrators to justice.
In Paris, the Eiffel Tower will go dark to honor the victims:
Ce soir, je m'éteindrai dès 00h00 pour rendre hommage aux victimes des attentats du Sri Lanka🇱🇰
— La tour Eiffel (@LaTourEiffel) April 21, 2019
Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK Manisha Gunasekera tells CNN that “seven people were arrested in connection with the attacks but could not confirm their nationalities.”
“There is also information that these have been suicide bombings carried out. These are certainly acts of terror,” Gunasekera adds.
“It’s been a day of great tragedy for Sri Lanka. The scale is unprecedented.”
The arrests suggest the Sri Lankan authorities have a pretty good idea of who carried out these attacks. The suggestion that there may be other “nationalities” involved could mean the attacks were planned on foreign soil.