Series of attacks Sri Lanka: The hell in the church
After the attacks in Sri Lanka there is sadness, shock and pure horror. Many people, still traumatized by the civil war, fear a new wave of violence and religious hatred.
A little more than an hour before hell makes it return to Malith Wimanna's life, before remotely screaming, "beware bomb!" Blowing over, the 31-year-old man in black synthetic shirt and blue jogging pants in the garden of his parents' home in Negombo, about 30 kilometers north of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. A predominantly Catholic suburb, which they also call Little Rome here.
More than fifty people, most in white shirts and white dresses, have gathered under awnings. White, the color of mourning. His parents are in the house. In two coffins, decorated with flowers. "It's all over," he says.
Malith Nicola Wimanna
Slightly more than 24 hours earlier, the country has been hit by a series of attacks, which within a short time assumed proportions that assumed unimaginable proportions even for the small country in which a bloody civil war raged until ten years ago. Bombs exploded in three hotels, three churches, then in a guest house and in a house complex in the arrest of the alleged perpetrators.
"There will be violence"
The country has been in shock ever since. Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka with its 800,000 inhabitants, with its colonial center and the modern skyscraper skyline, is quite normal during the day. There is less traffic jam than usual, the roads are full of military. But the beaches, which are otherwise crowded with tourists, are deserted.
The three luxury hotels hit by the attacks have mostly been evacuated, the guests have left, just as thousands of tourists are trying to leave the island nation anyway. Finally, in the evening, the city is dead. From eight o'clock in the evening there is a curfew, nobody dares out, there is a fear of new attacks. Many people in the city fear that terror will rip open the old civil war wounds, ten years after the killing has ended. Three Tuktuk drivers are certain: The "Islamic State" is behind it.
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Ten days earlier, the government now admits that there have been warnings. Was not traded. At least 290 people are now dead and more than 500 injured. The government blames the Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama'ath on Monday. She was supported by militants from abroad.
Violence against minorities by the Buddhist majority is nothing new in the island state. Violence of Muslims against Christians but, especially in these dimensions, has never existed.
Wimanna stands in front of the orange house of his parents, lost and lonely. He had to prepare a conference on the morning of Easter Sunday, says the IT expert. That's why he was not in the mess hall. That's why he still lives.
"I went to the St. Sebastian Church after hearing the explosion," he says. "I arrived in hell." He enters shortly after the explosion, which kills at least 104 people at 8:45 and devastates the nave, the church. "Twenty to thirty bodies lay around me."
He recognizes his father. His face is missing.
He gets his phone out of his pocket. "Here they are together," he says. In the photo are two bodies, the limbs ripped from the trunk, the skin dark from the heat of the explosion. His mother and father.
"I never thought Muslims would do that to us," he says. He continues to believe in a peaceful side by side. "Violence should not be the answer, but that's just my opinion, others will see it differently." Behind him, a priest sits in the shade. "There will be violence," says Wimanna.
"We're gonna knock these people away"
Outside, in front of the iron gate on Katuwapitiya Street, the army and police are patrolling. Another coffin is carried over. Almost every other garden is home to funeral societies, in the shade of palm trees. A few hundred meters further on is the St. Sebastian church. People gather at the gates. Priests walk through the heavy gate, a few Buddhist monks deliver their condolences.
Just over a hundred meters away, some young Christians are attacking Pakistani immigrants. "We're gonna knock these people away," they say. A police officer says there are no riots. Everything is normal.
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Suddenly the soldiers raise their rifles, gesticulate, approach the mourning crowd, scream. "A bomb," echoed in front of the church. Panic is spreading, people are running down the streets. A red package has been found in the church, says a soldier. A few minutes later there is an all-clear. Already on Sunday, the US State Department had said that it was assumed that there was a risk of further attacks.
Sister Sagarika (name changed) sits behind the church. A small woman with far protruding teeth. They had just finished Communion and gone to the sacristy when the young man, who had just come to church with a large bag in his hand, detonated the explosives.
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"At first I thought it was an earthquake," she says. After a few minutes, she went back to church. Dust hung in the air, she saw only the priest. He cried. She went a step further, then saw a head resting on a bench. Then she ran out.
"We have been happy for ten years"
"We thought we were safe," she says and her voice breaks. "Now that's hard to believe, even if it can happen in churches ..." She does not complete her sentence, looks down. "We have been happy for ten years." At that time the civil war ended in Sri Lanka. "If the government knew beforehand that the attacks were planned, they would have had to do something."
From the front entrance of the church helpers carry the pews. Blood sticks to them, hair and bones have drilled into the wood like shrapnel. A man carries the head of a Jesus statue in his hands.
Is she worried that the government cares more about the safety of the Buddhists than about the minorities? She looks down again. Roll easily with the eyes. Because she smiles, nods cautiously and says, "I should not say anything about that, we have to ask God to protect us."
While Sister Sagarika is talking, the Bomb Disposal Command detonates a car bomb in front of the ravaged St. Anthony's Church in Colombo, which was targeted for attack on Sunday, and whose tower clock is still at 8:45 am, the time the first bomb exploded , At about the same time, the main road between Negombo and Colombo is closed because of a suspicious car.
The news spreads on the cell phones of the people around Sister Sagarika.
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