Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Churchgoers send special prayers to Sri Lankan terror victims

Worshippers in Dubai offer condolences to victims of Easter Sunday bombing in Colombo

Relatives of a victim of an explosion at St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church in Colombo. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
Relatives of a victim of an explosion at St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church in Colombo. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

It was standing room only during a particularly poignant Easter Sunday service at St Mary’s Church in Dubai.

Many worshippers said special prayers for fellow Christians whose lives were so cruelly cut short during the day’s spate of bombings across Sri Lanka.

The congregation includes a strong Sri Lankan community, many of whom have loved-ones back home in Colombo.

For them it was an evening service of reflection and solidarity, as the parish sought to comes to terms with the tragic loss of life.

“There is a strong Sri Lankan community here in the UAE and at this church,” said Father Lennie Connully, parish priest of St Mary’s Church.

“We will be here for them at this difficult time in the coming days with a special mass. We will take care of them.

“All we can do now is listen to people, and find out who has done this and why.

“Terrorism happens everywhere, even in the most impregnable areas of the world like the USA.

“Nobody is immune to this, and anyone can be a victim at any time, here and now.

“We rely on the security that is provided by the nation, we can’t protect ourselves.”

More than 200 people are believed to have died following a wave of early morning bombs detonated in packed churches and hotels across Sri Lanka.

Leaders from around the world have condemned the attacks, in which 27 foreigners are also thought to have been killed.

Officials said initial investigations had established that suicide bombers were responsible for the attacks. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the blasts.

“Easter Sunday is a special day for all Christians and what happened in Colombo is really bad,” said Naveen Patrick, 30, a shop manager from India who said he shared a flat in Dubai with four Sri Lankans.

“The attack was even more significant and more damaging as so many more people would have been in church.

“I left work early today so did not get a chance to ask [my flatmates] if they had any family involved.

“I will ask them about what happened and how they are affected. I will be there for them.”

Kumar Chandana, 23, who works in a call centre, said he was still shocked by news of the attacks.

“We are thinking of our friends in Sri Lanka, what has happened is truly awful,” he said. “But I think it will bring Christians together.”

Updated: April 21, 2019 07:59 PM

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