The Archbishop of Colombo meets the ambassadors of Islamic countries: "What took place id neither political or religious, but the result of the actions of some misled people." In the meantime, investigations into the massacres continue. Military and Islamists: 15 dead, including six children, for fear of new attacks, the Sunday masses were canceled: Catholics invited to stay at home.
Colombo (AsiaNews) - The Islamic community of Sri Lanka "is in no way responsible" for the Easter massacres. This was clearly stated by Card. Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, archbishop of Colombo, at the end of this morning's meeting with the Association of Ambassadors of Islamic Countries.
The foreign dignitaries paid a visit to the bishop to express the solidarity and support of the Muslim world to Catholics. Meanwhile, for fear of new attacks on women priests, the Sri Lankan Catholic leaders cancel the Sunday celebrations indefinitely and invite the faithful to stay at home.
The cardinal stated: "I am very happy and grateful to the ambassadors of Islamic countries, who have come here to express their closeness and to assure us that what happened is not something political or religious, but the result of some people's actions misguided. Perhaps there are also other forces behind them, but they have no connection with Islam. We guaranteed to the ambassadors that we appreciate the Islamic community in Sri Lanka. We will help it so that these incidents do not in any way damage the harmony and peace that exist between us: Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims together. We must love Sri Lanka, a multi-religious and united nation ”.
"We have come here to express to Our Eminence our deepest solidarity and condolences on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The main victim of these terrorist attacks is the Christian community of Sri Lanka. We discussed the importance of harmony between communities and the coexistence of religions and cultures with His Eminence ", said one of the diplomats present.
Gen. Shahid Ahmad Hashmat, Pakistani ambassador to Sri Lanka, reiterated: "In representation of the government and people of Pakistan, we condemn these tragic and barbaric acts with the strongest words. As His Eminence said, terrorism has neither religion nor nationality ".
Meanwhile, investigations into the massacres continue. This morning the authorities found the bodies of 15 people, including six children, at the scene of a fierce gun battle between security forces and suspected Islamist militants on the east coast of Sri Lanka. The shooting broke out last night in the town of Sainthamaruthu (Ampara district), south of Batticaloa. A police spokesman reports that three suspected suicide bombers are among the victims. Struck by crossfire, a child is now hospitalized.
Sumith Atapattu, a spokesman for the army, said that when the military headed to the building where the conflict took place, the Islamists triggered three explosions and fired shots.
"The troops - he says - returned fire and broke into the house, where a large amount of dynamite material was kept". The militants are suspected of being members of the National Towheed Jama'at (Ntj), a group held responsible for the Easter massacres. The authorities have found material to make bombs in another house in the same area.
(Nirmala Carvalho collaborated).