Sun, 20 Sep 2020

<p>COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - With the death toll climbing to at least 321, and with five hundred people wounded, many&nbsp; critically, following a <a href="">series of explosions</a> inside 3 churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka, in a statement, UN chief&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="">Ant&oacute;nio Guterres</a> says he is &quot;outraged by the terror attacks&quot; and called for the perpetrators to be &quot;swiftly brought to justice.&quot;</p><p>Three churches were targeted, in the cities of Batticaloa, Negombo, and the capital, Colombo as Christians gathered for services to celebrate Easter. The Shangri-La, Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and another hotel, all in the capital, were also hit.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>So far, no group has claimed responsibility for carrying out the likely suicide bombings, but police have reportedly arrested twenty four people in connection with the attacks.&nbsp;</p><p>The Secretary-General said&nbsp;<a href="">in a statement</a>&nbsp;that&nbsp;on what was &quot;a sacred day for Christians around the world,&quot; he recalled &quot;the sanctity of all places of worship.&quot;</p><p>The statement issued by his spokesperson said the UN chief &quot;expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the victims, the people and government of Sri Lanka, and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.&quot;</p><p>He also commended &quot;the leadership demonstrated by the authorities and unity of the people in Sri Lanka in the wake of the attacks.&quot;</p><p>In a tweet, the UN&rsquo;s Resident Coordinator for the Indian Ocean island, Hanaa Singer, said the UN &quot;strongly condemns the horrific attacks carried out against civilians and worshippers...Heartfelt condolences to the families, victims, government and people&quot;. She also urged Sri Lankans to &quot;stand united&quot; in the face of the carnage.&nbsp;</p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="">President of the UN General Assembly</a>, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, also expressed her &quot;deep sadness&quot; in a tweet, saying that her&nbsp;thoughts&nbsp;were with the people of Sri Lanka, &quot;affected by yet another act of senseless violence.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We must unite in our common humanity to condemn these heinous acts and stop&nbsp;targetting&nbsp;innocent people, practicing their faith in peace,&quot; she added.&nbsp;</p><p>Sir Lanka&rsquo;s bloody 26-year civil war waged between government forces and Tamil separatists in the north, ended a decade ago in 2009 with the defeat of the rebels, and in the years since, there has been sporadic violence, some targeting religious minorities.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The island is home to around 1.5 million Christians, the vast majority of them Roman Catholic. The Singhalese majority are Buddhist &ndash; around 70 per cent of the population - with sizeable Hindu and Muslim&nbsp;minorites&nbsp;also.&nbsp;</p><p>In response to Sunday&rsquo;s attacks, a national curfew has been put in place, and social media networks have reportedly been blocked.&nbsp;</p><p>Eyewitness reports from St. Sebastian&rsquo;s Roman Catholic church in Negombo describe a scene of carnage, with dozens killed. There were also heavy casualties at St. Anthony&rsquo;s, another Roman Catholic church in the&nbsp;Kochckicade&nbsp;district of Colombo, where the first blast detonated.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Pope Francis, in his Easter Address outside St. Peter&rsquo;s in Rome, expressed his &quot;affectionate closeness&quot; for the Christian community in Sri Lanka which had been struck while gathering for one of its biggest celebrations of the year, and his thoughts to &quot;all the victims of such cruel violence.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>UN chief Guterres, concluded his statement reiterating the &quot;supprt and solidarity of the United Nations, with the people and the government of Sri Lanka, in this difficult moment for the nation.&quot;</p>

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