Sri Lanka Christians Stayed home to Pray after Easter bombings

Christians in Sri Lanka have prayed at home one week after a series of deadly bombings by Islamist militants.

Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith held a televised mass, attended by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

He called the attacks on churches and hotels “an insult to humanity” in the service, broadcast from a chapel in his residence. At least 250 people died.

Sunday church services were cancelled after the attacks on Easter Sunday.

“Today during this Mass we are paying attention to last Sunday’s tragedy and we try to understand it,” Cardinal Ranjith said.

“We pray that in this country there will be peace and co-existence and understanding each other without division.”

As people prayed, police sources said the father and two brothers of Zahran Hashim – the radical preacher suspected of masterminding the attacks – were killed in a raid on their safe house on Friday.

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Brothers Zainee and Rilwan and their father, Mohamed Hashim, were identified as three of the 15 people who died during the operation in Sainthamaruthu, near Hashim’s hometown.

President Sirisena earlier said the ringleader himself had been killed in the bombing at the Shangri-La Hotel last Sunday.

While Sri Lanka’s churches were empty, scores of people gathered for a public service outside St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, the site of one of the deadliest bombings.

There, Buddhist monks joined Catholic priests for prayers in a show of solidarity with the Christian community.

Crowds of people watched the heavily-guarded church from behind a barricade, with some singing hymns and passing rosary beads through their hands.

Many lit candles and placed them in a makeshift memorial for the victims.

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