Catholics in the Sri Lankan cities of Colombo and Negombo have held their first Sunday morning masses since the terrorist attacks. To include, churches were struck by suicide bombers on Easter Sunday that killed more than 250 people. The prayer held under tight security of police at every entrance to St Lucia’s Cathedral in Colombo, one of the country’s largest churches, which was full of worshippers, including many who had lost relatives in the bombings on 21 April claimed by the Islamic States.
Those attending experienced full-body searches and were prohibited from carrying cases, and also the road outside was obstructed and guarded by armed troopers. Troops sporting masks and camouflage patrolled the encompassing space on motorbikes. At Colombo’s Mother of Seven Sorrows Mater Dolorosa church, two streets means from St Anthony’s, devotees trickled in till the building was full. Wall-mounted fans whirred at capability to obstruct the extraordinary humidness.
Sunday’s masses in the two cities services elsewhere in the country had restarted earlier – were small steps towards the resumption of normal life after the attacks that ended a decade of relative peace following the government’s brutal victory in the country’s 27-year civil war against Tamil militants. Students at state-run schools resumed classes last week. Campuses were guarded by police, and parents requested to replace school bags with clear plastic sacks. Attendance remains low. Catholic private schools, which have been shut since the attacks, are likely to re-open on Tuesday. Heavy police and army presence is still visible in major cities and villages as security forces continue the hunt for accomplices of the terror cell that executed the bombings.