Bloody Sunday: The Nazarene Fund Partners With Targeted Sri Lanka Churches to Help Survivors.
Four days after suicide bombers attacked three churches and three hotels in various locations across the island nation of Sri Lanka, The Nazarene Fund is working with local partners and raising funds to assist the survivors and the families of those killed in the Easter Sunday massacre.
The attacks are reported to have been the work of nine individuals who, in a coordinated effort, killed 359 and wounded 500 people. The fatalities include forty-five children. The first funerals for the victims were held yesterday.
The Sri Lankan police have arrested 60 people in connection with the attacks. Officials said nine bombers, eight men and one woman, also died in the attacks including a man described as the leader of a homegrown, militant Islamist group. Those arrested are reported to be members of National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a little-known radical organization. A Sri Lankan government official said the group, which had not carried out any serious attacks before, had help from “an international network.”
Additionally, the Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the bombings and has posted a photo on its website of people who it claims are the attackers standing in front of the black ISIS flag. As of this writing that claim has not been independently verified. A video taken with CCTVs appears to show one of the bombers enter St. Sebastian’s Church and set off one of the bombs.
The victims were targeted for one reason – they were Christian. The attackers knew that on Easter Sunday – the holiest day of the year – the pews would be full, and the result would be a maximum number of casualties.
The country has a history of civil strife including a 26-year insurgent war between its majority Sinhalese population and the Tamil minority. That conflict was nationalist in nature and was not drawn across religious lines. It ended in 2006. The majority of the island’s population is Buddhist with a sizeable Hindu minority. Christians in Sri Lanka practice their faith openly and makeup about 7% of the total population. They historically allied themselves with the country’s Muslims community as both populations have been the targets of persecutions.
Unfortunately, the persecution of Christians continues to be a global problem and is not limited to the battlefields of the Middle East. It is occurring on a massive scale and it is happening every day. These attacks in Sri Lanka are just the most recent and prolific incidents. The ISIS threat also continues as its poisonous ideology lives on and its fighters and supporters continue to operate seemingly with impunity.
And the world remains silent.
The Nazarene Fund continues to stand against this scourge. We are supporting the congregations of St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Zion Church in Batitcalao, and St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo. Our prayers are with the victims and their families. We will not give up the fight.
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