People in Colombo, Sri Lanka, react April 22, 2019, as military attend a suspected van containing explosives. Sri Lankan officials reported 290 confirmed deaths from the eight blasts at churches and hotels in three cities the previous day. CNS photo/Dinuka Liyanawatte, Reuters

Massive Sri Lanka Easter bombings traced to little-known group

By  Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service
  • April 22, 2019

BANGKOK - The Sri Lankan government blamed little-known Islamic group National Thowheeth Jama'ath for the Easter suicide bombings that targeted three churches and three luxury hotels across the country.

Authorities named the group April 22 and said 24 people had been arrested in connection with eight bombings that left at least 290 people dead and more than 500 injured.

The violence was the deadliest the country had seen since a 26-year civil war ended in 2009.

Two Catholic churches -- St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo and St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo -- as well as an evangelical church in Batticaloa were targeted during Easter services. The Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels in Colombo also were attacked.

"We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country," Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said April 22. "There was an international network, without which these attacks could not have succeeded."

The majority of those killed and injured are believed to be Sri Lankan nationals, many of whom were attending church services. The government said those killed included at least 39 foreign nationals from the United States, United Kingdom, India, China, Japan, Australia, Turkey, Australia and other European countries.

Photos from the church bombings showed blood-spattered walls, broken glass and statues knocked on their sides.

Christians make up about 6%, or about 1.5 million, of Sri Lanka's population of 22 million, according to the country's 2012 census. About 85% of Christians are Catholic The majority of the population, about 70.2%, is Buddhist, while Muslims make up 9.6% and Hindus 12.6% of the population.

Pope Francis used his Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican to express his "loving closeness to the Christian community, targeted while they were gathered in prayer, and all the victims of such cruel violence."

"I entrust to the Lord all those who were tragically killed and pray for the injured and all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event," he said, expressing closeness to Sri Lanka's Christian community.

Cardinal Malcom Ranjith of Colombo visited St. Sebastian's Church to witness the recovery efforts of security forces, the BBC reported. Briefing reporters afterward, he condemned the violence "that has caused so much death and suffering to the people."

"It's a very, very sad day for all of us," he said. "I wish to, therefore, express my deepest sympathy to all those innocent families that have lost someone, and also to those who have been injured and rendered destitute."

The cardinal also called on the government to investigate the bombings as thoroughly as possible and to punish the perpetrators "mercilessly."

Bishops' conferences around the world, including those in the United States, Australia, Pakistan and Indonesia, extended their sympathy.

Damien Kingsbury, professor of international politics and a Sri Lankan expert at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, said there has been no history of Islamic terrorism in Sri Lanka. National Thowheeth Jama'ath surfaced on only on a few occasions in recent years in relation to hate speech and property-related attacks on Buddhist temples, he said.

"It's likely that recent return of Islamic State fighters to Sri Lanka had strengthened their resolve," Kingsbury told Catholic News Service. Earlier in April, the Sri Lankan government had identified a number of Sri Lankans who had returned to the country following the collapse of the so-called IS caliphate in Syria.

Sri Lanka Police Chief Pujuth Jayasundara issued a warning about the organization carrying out suicide bombings of prominent churches 10 days before the attacks, reported Agence-France Presse. It was unclear what action security forces had taken ahead of Easter in response.

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe claimed he and other top government officials were not told and has said "we must look into why adequate precautions were not taken."

Experts noted that the precise coordination -- six explosions went off within 20 minutes of each other -- and the number of sites chosen for attack echoed the 2008 Mumbai assault on major hotels by an Islamic State-linked terrorist group.

The bombings have ended a decade of relative peace in Sri Lanka, a country with a long history of battling terrorism during civil war between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

A curfew was imposed in Sri Lanka from 8 p.m. April 22 until 4 a.m. April 23 local time. A national day of mourning was declared for April 23.

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There are prophecies about the Muslims rising against the Church and all peoples.
Venerable Bartholemew Holzhauser, a parish priest in the 1600s in Germany had visions of the 20th century and beyond, stating: “These are evil times, a century...

There are prophecies about the Muslims rising against the Church and all peoples.
Venerable Bartholemew Holzhauser, a parish priest in the 1600s in Germany had visions of the 20th century and beyond, stating: “These are evil times, a century full of dangers and calamities. Heresy is everywhere, and the followers of heresy are in power almost everywhere… But God will permit a great evil against his Church: Heretics and Tyrants will come suddenly and unexpectedly… and destroy everything.” Ven. Holzhauser continues: “Are we not to fear during this period that the Mohammedans will come again, working out their sinister schemes against the Latin Church.”
Also, Our Lady of Peace appears at Anguera , Brazil : “The day will come when the furious Lion (Mohammedans) will lay at the feet of the dragon. A union of beasts will bring great suffering to my poor children.” “In the Iberian Peninsula is the nest of the beasts, (Mohammedans) which will bring great suffering to mankind.”
According to future Catholic prophecies, this age is “coming to a close”, after 10 events unfold that Mary, Mother of Jesus has predicted at some of the major apparition sites throughout the world. This information also comes from canonized saint’s prophecies.
A spiritual storm has begun that is growing with intensity. Pope John Paul II had visions of the future while convalescing after an attempt on his life and was aware of a great storm on the horizon. He stated: "Precisely at the end of the second millennium, there accumulates on the horizon of all mankind enormously threatening clouds, and darkness falls upon mankind." An awakening is coming!! Pope John Paul talked about the Lamb (Jesus Christ), who is the only one able to open up the seven seals: "That scroll contains the whole series of divine decrees that must be accomplished in human history to make perfect justice prevail. If the scroll remains sealed, these decrees can be neither known nor implemented, and wickedness will continue to spread and oppress believers. Hence, the need for authoritative intervention: it would be made by the slain and risen Lamb...to take the scroll and to open its seals.". This is not the end of Popes though. Popes will continue into the 6th Church age of peace. There are 7 Church ages for the Church.
A book and web site called, “After The Warning To 2038” .com, has many prophecies from credible, Catholic sources that are predicting many more future events.

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