Regional and international leaders denounce Sri Lanka attacks

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Politicians and religious leaders were united in their shock and condemnation of the explosions that left at least 156 dead and 300 injured in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo.

The Catholic Church in the Holy Land has voiced support for Sri Lanka’s Christians and condemned the attacks.

A statement issued in Jerusalem said the blasts were particularly sad as they “came while Christians celebrate Easter.”

“We pray for the souls of the victims and ask for speedy recovery of the injured, and ask God to inspire the terrorists to repent of their killing and intimidation,” the statement said.

For his part, Pope Francis said: “I learned with sadness and pain of the news of the grave attacks, that precisely today, Easter, brought mourning and pain to churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka.”

He told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square to hear his Easter Sunday message: “I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, hit while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.”

Meanwhile, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S Lauder said: “World Jewry - in fact all civilized people - denounce this heinous outrage and appeal for zero tolerance of those who use terror to advance their objectives. This truly barbarous assault on peaceful worshippers on one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar serves as a painful reminder that the war against terror must be at the top of the international agenda and pursued relentlessly,” he said in a statement.

Regionally, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s condemnation and denunciation of the series of “terrorist bombings in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.”

The ministry expressed “condolences to the families of the victims, the government and the people of Sri Lanka, wishing a speedy recovery for the injured” and “stressing the need for concerted international efforts to combat terrorism which threatens security and stability all over the world without exception,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Also the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain condemned the attacks in separate statements.

The UAE called upon “the international community to close ranks and uproot the scourge of terrorism in order to ensure international peace and security.”

While Bahrain said “these acts of terrorism are incompatible with religious principles and human and moral values.”

International reaction

British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the deadly string of attacks.

“The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time. We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practice their faith in fear,” she said on Twitter.

In a telegram of condolences sent to his Sri Lankan counterpart, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow remains a “reliable partner of Sri Lanka in the fight against international terrorism.”

He added that the Russians “share the grief of the relatives of those killed and wish a quick recovery to all those who were wounded.”

Putin voiced confidence that “the perpetrators and the masterminds of such a cruel and cynical crime committed amid the Easter festivities will take the punishment they deserve.”

US President Donald Trump tweeted: “138 people have been killed in Sri Lanka, with more that 600 badly injured, in a terrorist attack on churches and hotels. The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “It is shocking that people who had gathered to celebrate Easter were the deliberate target of vicious attacks,” she wrote in a letter of condolence to Sri Lanka’s president.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “Terribly saddened by terrorist attacks on Sri Lankan worshippers during Easter. Condolences to friendly govt & people of Sri Lanka. Our thoughts & prayers with the victims & their families. Terrorism is a global menace with no religion: it must be condemned & confronted globally.”

For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attacks “an assault on all of humanity.”

It was the worst violence in the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago.

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has convened the country’s top military officials at an emergency meeting of the National Security Council following a series of Easter Sunday blasts.

Earlier, Wickremesinghe tweeted that “the government is taking immediate steps to contain the situation.”

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