“A series of coordinated attacks hit churches and hotels in Sri Lanka this morning, causing extreme devastation. With men, women and children, from all walks of life and from different nationalities among the victims, this is a truly sad day for the country and for the world” says the statement of the EU top diplomat Federcia Mogherini.
“The European Union offers its most sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who have been killed and wishes a speedy recovery to the many wounded.
“Easter Sunday is a special moment for Christians around the world. It is a time to give thanks, for remembrance, celebration, and peaceful prayer. Such acts of violence on this Holy Day are acts of violence against all beliefs and denominations, and against all those who value the freedom of religion and the choice to worship.
“The European Union stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan authorities at this difficult time. The European Union is also ready to offer support.”
Seven suspects were arrested later in the afternoon, Sri Lanka‘s defense minister said. However there were no immediate claims of responsibility.
AFP news agency reports that Sri Lanka‘s police chief Pujuth Jayasundara issued an intelligence alert to top officers 10 days ago, warning that suicide bombers planned to hit “prominent churches“.
“A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo,” the alert said.
The NTJ is Sri Lanka radical Muslim group that was linked last year to the vandalism of Buddhist statues.
“An unprecedented wave of strikes since the end of the civil war in 2009, which occurred in the context of the excessive ethnic and religious violence. More than 100 kg of explosives were found in January”, writes French leading expert in terrorism Jean-Charles Brisard.