VATICAN: Pope Francis on Sunday condemned attacks that killed at least 160 people in three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka as “such cruel violence” and said he was close to the Christian community, hit while celebrating Easter.
The blasts, which hospital and police officials said wounded more than 400 people, followed a lull in major attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago.
At the same time, world leaders have condemned a series of blasts in Sri Lanka including dozens of foreigners, with British, Dutch and American citizens believed to be among them.
Hospital sources also said Japanese citizens were among those injured by the bombs which ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services.
Here is a summary of the reactions:
Britain: ‘Stand together’
British Prime Minister Theresa May described the attacks as “truly appalling”.
“The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time,” she tweeted.
“We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear.”
The Netherlands: ‘Terrible reports’
“Terrible reports from Sri Lanka about bloody attacks on hotels and churches on this Easter Sunday,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted after the attacks first emerged.
“Thoughts are with the victims and their relatives.”
Australia: ‘Terrorist attack’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia was thinking of those killed in a “horrific terrorist attack”.
“To the beautiful people of Sri Lanka, Australia sends its heartfelt sympathies and our prayers and our support and our offer to do whatever we can to support you in this terrible time of need,” he said in a statement.
“At this time as Easter Sunday draws to a conclusion here in Australia, our heart goes out to those Christians and all of those other innocents who have been slaughtered today in this horrific terrorist attack.”
New Zealand: ‘Devastating’
A month after dozens of Muslims were killed in a shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the attack as “devastating”.
“New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on the 15th of March.
“To see an attack in SriLanka while people were in churches and at hotels is devastating.
“New Zealand rejects all forms of extremism and stands for freedom of religion and the right to worship safely. Collectively we must find the will and the answers to end such violence.”
Catholic Church in Holy Land: ‘Solidarity’
The Catholic Church in Jerusalem said the blasts were particularly sad as they “came while Christians celebrate Easter”.
“We pray for the souls of the victims and ask for speedy recovery of the injured, and ask God to inspire the terrorists to repent of their killing and intimidation,” the statement said.
“We also express our solidarity with Sri Lanka and all its inhabitants in their various religious and ethnic backgrounds.”