People react as silence is observed as a tribute to victims during a memorial service in Colombo. File Photo/Reuters
Weeping Sri Lankan Catholics lit candles and prayed in a memorial service outside a bombed church on Tuesday, one month after Easter bombings by militants killed more than 250 people.
The April 21 attacks, claimed by militant group Daesh, targeted three churches and three luxury hotels, shocking the island and shattering a decade of relative peace after the end of a 25-year civil war.
Hundreds of worshippers, including survivors and relatives of the victims, gathered outside St. Anthony's Shrine, a Catholic church in the capital, Colombo, for the ceremony.
"I did not want to come here," said Gloria, one of those attending, as she wiped away tears.
"But we came to remember our daddy who left us," added the 17-year-old, who was accompanied by her mother and 14-year-old sister, Sophia.
Gloria, who declined to give her surname, said she lost consciousness during the attack, and opened her eyes to see her sister crawling towards her and her father bleeding.
The navy is repairing the white-painted church, which is covered in scaffolding, and police with sniffer dogs patrolled the area.
Some Christian schools also re-opened on Tuesday amid tight security. The city's archbishop had complained about insufficient security around churches, and many parents have kept their children at home for fears of renewed attacks.
Authorities say the threat of more militant attacks has been contained and that security services have dismantled most of the network linked to the Easter Sunday bombings.
The family was stunned, grieving — and angry. They had just buried three of their own, an elderly couple and their 11-year-old grandson who were killed in their church pews Easter morning, and they lashed out at the government.
Violence still continues to haunt Sri Lanka though it has been a decade since the Lankan army defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The defeat of the LTTE ended a violent chapter in the history of the island nation, but the wounds of the past seem to be opening once again for us (“Ten years on, Lanka still in hunt for peace,” May 16, Gulf Today).
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has fired the country's chief of national intelligence after he suggested the leader knew about warnings that deadly Easter bombings were in the works.
A UAE official said on Tuesday that the oil tanker MT RIAH is not owned by the UAE.
Sharjah Police are still searching for an Indian boy, 15, who has been missing from his parents’ home for 13 days now. The boy did not take any of his personal belongings and left home with only Dhs8 of his daily pocket money, according to the boy’s father.
Observers believe that the nearly 18-year conflict will be the major focus of talks between Khan and President Donald Trump when they meet on July 22.