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Sri Lanka beefs up security at churches ahead of Good Friday

Comprehensive plan involving police, army, and air force chalked out to enable Christians attend church services without fear
Security personnel stand guard at St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 23, 2019, after a series of bomb blasts targeted churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka.

Security personnel stand guard at St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo on April 23, 2019, after a series of bomb blasts targeted churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 27, 2024 11:01 AM GMT
Updated: March 28, 2024 04:01 AM GMT

The Sri Lankan government has announced it will be beefing up security around churches during the Holy Week in the wake of the deadly Easter Sunday attacks in 2019.

“A comprehensive plan is being implemented for Good Friday and Easter Sunday,” police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa told journalists on March 26. “The police will visit churches to finalize the plan.”

The decision will help Christians to attend church services without fear, the government said after it instructed senior police officials to oversee the security arrangements which involve the deployment of police, army, and air force personnel.

“We appreciate the government's decision," Pastor Suresh Rathwaththa from the central province of Kandy said on March 27.

Mangala Ruwini, a Sunday school teacher from the capital Colombo, said, "We need proper security measures.”

After the deadly attacks targeting three churches and three luxury hotels in 2019 which claimed more than 275 lives, many churches installed CCTV cameras and formed their own security teams.

Inspector General of Police Deshabandu Tennekoon has instructed police officers to implement a special security program for all churches in their divisions.

The security arrangement will be chalked out in consultation with parish priests, pastors, and parish councils.

Prominent churches in the country have also been told to ensure security for the Easter Sunday services.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and an advocacy group Centre for Policy Alternatives have filed a petition against Tennekoon challenging his new appointment as top cop in the country.

The presidential commission that probed the Easter Sunday attacks recommended disciplinary action against Tennekoon for failing to act on intelligence inputs.

Five years after the attack, the masterminds are still at large.

Jude Silva, an Easter Sunday attack victim who sustained a minor injury, said that if the police and government officers had acted seriously, the deadly simultaneous bombing could have been prevented.

 “Some officials and politicians knew about the attack, but ignored it," Silva told UCA News on Mar. 27.

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