After the bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 200 people on Sunday, images of the Roman Catholic churches that had been targeted showed smashed pews, broken statues and charred beams. Windows, floors and ceilings were blown out at the hotels that were hit.
Witnesses described scenes of terror and carnage. N. A. Sumanapala, a shopkeeper who works near one of the churches that was struck, St. Anthony’s Shrine in the capital, Colombo, said: “It was a river of blood. Ash was falling like snow.”
A guest at the Shangri-La hotel, Sarita Marlou, wrote in a Facebook post that the bomb there had been set off in a third-floor restaurant.
“Felt the blast all the way up to the 17th floor where we were sleeping,” she wrote. “Few minutes later, we were asked to evacuate the hotel. While running down the stairs, saw a lot of blood on the floor but we were still clueless as to what really happened.”
Pope Francis, after celebrating a Mass in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, said the attacks in Sri Lanka had “brought mourning and sorrow” to an important Christian holiday.
“I want to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, struck while it was gathered in prayer, and all the victims of such cruel violence,” he said.
Police officials in Sri Lanka said 13 people had been arrested in connection with the attacks, which were described as coordinated by a single group. The Colombo attacks were said to have been carried out by suicide bombers.
At least 207 people were killed and at least 450 wounded, the authorities said, and 35 foreigners were reported to be among the dead. Officials and news media reports said American, British, Chinese, Dutch, Indian, Portuguese and Turkish citizens were among the victims.
Orignially published in NYT.