Written by S. Shiva (Sri Lanka Reporter)
One year has passed since the horrifying terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. It was an attack that ended the lives of over 250 people.
On the morning of the 21st of April 2019, the residents of Colombo were in chaos from the sudden news report that there had been a bomb attack at the Saint Anthony’s Church while churchgoers were about their Easter Sunday prayers. Many thought the news was a prank. Or maybe just a power transformer along the road exploding. Nobody wanted to believe it was a bomb, a possible harbinger of war.
It was ten years since the end of the decades-long Civil War Sri Lanka had been embroiled in. Nobody wanted to hear of the traumatic news of bombs again. So they subconsciously hoped that there would be another article or news report mentioning that it was just a fake report or that there had been a mistake in reporting.
But it did not happen. Before they could fully accept the news the second bomb exploded. And then the third…and fourth… and so on. That was when people started realizing that it was a terrorist attack, a planned war against humanity. Award crime that have been conducted when people were peacefully worshiping and conducting their religious rights.
There were nine bombs (some were suicide bombs) that detonated and one that was disarmed. The attacks took place in three churches ( St.Anthony’s-Kochchikade, St.Sebastien’s-Negombo and at an unnamed church Batticaloa) and three luxury hotels (Hotel Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and Shangri La). There were also two other incendiary bombs that exploded in a residential flat in Dematagoda and at a small hotel near the Dehiwela Zoo. The final one was found near a church and exploded in a controlled manner while disarming. In addition, a bomb was found near the Katunayake international airport and was defused safely. The attacks killed two hundred fifty nine people, including 45 foreign who are visiting Sri Lanka and three policemen. There were over 500 people injured.
Meanwhile, the social media sites exploded with local and international chatter on what was happening. Raw footage showing the horrifying aftermath taken by civilian first responders from the attacks started appearing among these chatter. The raw footage showed sickening pieces of bodies, shattered glass, blood painted all over pews and smoking buildings. Weeping and screaming injured children sat next to their parents corpses on the ground, trying to shake them awake.
These footage were taken up by the news stations and TV stations, as they were blocked by barricades and prevented from videoing the situation by armed forces by the time they arrived. The footage was edited to be more family-friendly before being displayed in the news. The hospitals overflowed with injured. Disaster assistance was given by several international countries, groups and individuals – though how much of it actually reached the victims is questionable
As people shook in fear, it was found that the attack was conducted by an Islamic terrorist group according to the investigations done. Anti-Islamic groups had field day. Phobia against the Muslims and riots in certain areas started occurring.
It also led to the attack of thousands of innocent and uninvolved Muslims within Sri Lanka, months later as they went about their Ramadan celebrations. Yet there were only a few of the actual criminals and investigators caught. To this day the true powers behind this attack have not been found. But was it truly by a Muslim group? Would such a group reveal themselves and allow their own communities of Muslims to be penalized in their place? Or was it an unknown malcontent that wished to trigger a war between the two already slightly hostile religions of Christianity and Islam?
The riots and crimes against the Muslims in the country were also triggers for the Islamic community who watched and heard of their brothers being attacked as the law enforcement stood by laughing. The instigators of the riots were not penalized by the state. It became a cycle of hate that may only show its true form decades from now.
The Situation Today
An year has passed since the attacks. We remember those who lost their lives for no reason other than hate. And yet those victims seriously injured in the attacks, and pushed out of sight into the dark hidden corners of hospitals, are abandoned and uncared for. Only a few visit them now, and they receive little to no assistance. They shed tears as they look at their burnt twisted skin and missing limbs. The memories of dead friends and relatives has become silent film in the brains of these fallen. Yet who still cares?
The Sri Lankan government that remained heedless of the attacks mere weeks after the incident, suddenly became very active in searching for perpetrators as the one year remembrance day approached. Will this crime truly be solved?
Meanwhile, the government reports of messages that they have received about a second attack in the near future. No, further details have been released. However, they have mentioned that they are taking the maximum efforts to prevent such attacks.
As people stumble to take in the terror of COVID -19, the future remains unpredictable. The full outcome of the Easter Sunday Attack yet remains to seen as underground forces brew.