‘We stand ready to support’: World leaders react to Sri Lanka attack
‘Collectively we must find the will to end such violence,’ New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden says
A relative of a victim of the explosion at St Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade church reacts at the police mortuary in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
Politicians and religious leaders were united in their shock and condemnation of the Easter Sunday bomb blasts in Sri Lanka which have left 207 dead and 450 injured.
Pope Francis said he learned with sadness and pain of the news of the grave attacks which brought mourning and pain to churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka.
“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,” he told tens of thousands of people in St Peter’s Square to hear his Easter Sunday message.
German chancellor Angela Merkel wrote a letter of condolence to Sri Lanka’s president, saying:
“It is shocking that people who had gathered to celebrate Easter were the deliberate target of vicious attacks.”
French president Emmanuel Macron tweeted that he felt “deep sorrow following the terrorist attacks against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. We firmly condemn these heinous acts. All our solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and our thoughts go out to all victims’ relatives on this Easter Day. ”
UK prime minister Theresa May also took to Twitter, saying:
We are deeply saddened by the terrorist attacks against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. We firmly condemn these odious acts. We stand by the people of Sri Lanka and our thoughts go out to the loved ones of the victims on this Easter Sunday. https://t.co/NytqQP9aE7— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 21, 2019
“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 practise their faith in fear.”
In a statement issued on Sunday, President Michael D Higgins said: “As President of Ireland I am sure that people in Ireland will have heard with great concern of the heavy loss of life that has happened at places of worship in Sri Lanka, at a time of religious significance.
“The right to the freedom of worship is a fundamental right.
“To the families of those who died and those who have been injured I send the sympathies and solidarity of the people of Ireland,” he said.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he was shocked at the appalling attacks on innocent civilians in Sri Lanka. “No political or other cause can justify or excuse the bombing of people at worship or simply going about their daily lives.
“I express my sympathy to the families of those who have been killed and my support to those who have been injured.
“On behalf of the government of Ireland I also express our solidarity with the people and government of Sri Lanka at this tremendously difficult time. Ireland strongly supports everyone’s freedom of religion and belief.
“Attacks such as those in Sri Lanka today and in Christchurch and elsewhere are a challenge to us all to do everything that we can to defend that right. Places of worship must be places of peace, free from fear.”
European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said:
“It was with horror and sadness that I heard of the bombings in Sri Lanka costing the lives of so many people. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who had gathered to worship peacefully or come to visit this beautiful country. We stand ready to support.”
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said her country “condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on the 15th of March. To see an attack in Sri Lanka while people were in churches and at hotels is devastating.
“New Zealand rejects all forms of extremism and stands for freedom of religion and the right to worship safely. Collectively we must find the will and the answers to end such violence.”