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A Sri Lankan Army motor unit soldier patrols in front of a Mass on Good Friday outside St. Lucia Church in Colombo on April 2, 2021. Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP

COLOMBO security was boosted in churches across Sri Lanka ahead of Easter Sunday services to protect themselves from a repeat of the 2019 suicide bombings that killed 279, a police spokesman said.

More than 12,500 armed soldiers were on duty near 2,000 Sri Lankan churches and were supported by military personnel.

“We have also received the assistance of the armed forces to patrol and strengthen police units across the country,” said police spokeswoman Deputy Inspector General Ajith Rohana.

Sri Lanka was rocked on Easter Sunday 2019 when three churches and three hotels were targeted by alleged local jihadists in the biggest single terrorist attack in the country’s history.

At least 279 people were killed in the attacks and about 500 were injured.

On Sunday, police checked ID cards and bags before allowing people to attend the morning mass at St. Sebastian’s church north of the capital Colombo, where at least 115 people were killed in the 2019 Easter attack.

More than 200 people have been arrested in connection with the bombings, but no one has yet been charged, with the Roman Catholic Church pressuring the government to prosecute those responsible as well as those who failed to prevent it.

Posters seeking justice were placed outside St. Sebastian, which was filled with worshipers on Sunday.

The head of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, has given the government until April 21 to launch action against those responsible, or face protests across the country.


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