Sri Lanka: increased security around churches two years after the Easter attacks

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Security was tightened around Sri Lankan churches on Sunday during Easter services, two years after jihadist suicide attacks that killed 279 people in April 2019, a police spokesperson said.

More than 12,500 armed police backed by the army were deployed Sunday near nearly 2,000 Sri Lankan churches.

“We have also enlisted the help of the armed forces to patrol and strengthen police services across the country,” said police spokesman Deputy Inspector General Ajith Rohana.

Suicide bombings struck three Sri Lankan churches and three luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in April 2019. At least 279 people were killed in the attacks and some 500 injured.

On Sunday, the police checked the identity and contents of the bags of the faithful before allowing them to attend mass in the church of Saint Sebastian, in the north of the capital Colombo, where 115 people were killed in 2019 during of the Easter attacks.

More than 200 people in connection with the attacks, attributed to a local jihadist organization, have been arrested, but no one has yet been prosecuted.

The Roman Catholic Church is putting pressure on the government so that those responsible for these attacks and those who failed to prevent them are prosecuted.

On Sunday, posters calling for justice were plastered outside the Church of Saint Sebastian, which was crowded with worshipers.

The head of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith recently gave the government until April 21 for the investigation to advance or call for protests across the country.