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Sri Lankan cardinal meets PM over support for attack victims

Cardinal Ranjith praises government for resolving problems but calls for steps to make the country safer

UCA News reporter, Colombo

UCA News reporter, Colombo

Published: December 17, 2020 07:00 AM GMT

Updated: December 17, 2020 07:17 AM GMT

Sri Lankan cardinal meets PM over support for attack victims

The aftermath of the bombing that killed 28 people at St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade in Colombo on Easter Sunday in 2019. (Photo: Niranjani Roland)

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has met Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to resolve the problems of families affected by last year’s Easter Sunday attacks.

"We are doing all this because of the people who have been affected by the Easter Sunday attacks. We hope that the government will take all necessary steps to make the country a safer place to prevent such incidents in the future," the prelate said during the meeting at Temple Trees, the official residence of the prime minister, on Dec. 16.

Auxiliary Bishop J.D. Anthony, several priests and government officials also attended the meeting.

Rajapaksa instructed the State Engineering Corporation to restart and expedite the construction of 24 housing projects in Katuwapitiya for victims of the terror attacks.

Some 33 houses from a proposed Housing Development Authority scheme have also been allocated for affected families now living in rented properties in Colombo.

The prime minister also directed the Ministry of Finance to discuss with banks problems with loan repayments of those affected by the bombings.

In addition, he directed the director-general of health services to provide victims with the medical treatment and facilities they need.

Meanwhile, the construction of Katuwapitiya Sunday School has been completed at a cost of over 60 million rupees (US$321,000).

Cardinal Ranjith recently questioned whether there has been a satisfactory investigation into the financing and sponsorship of the attacks, adding that if the probe is not carried out properly, confidence in the government will be shattered.

However, the prelate praised the government for resolving the problems of affected families and providing relief to them.

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On Easter Sunday in 2019, nine suicide bombers affiliated to local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath targeted three churches and three luxury hotels, killing at least 279 people including 37 foreign nationals.

Sarath Weerasekera, minister of public security, said cases will be filed against the 267 suspects arrested in connection with the Easter attacks.

He said action will be taken soon after the release of the report of the Presidential Commission appointed to investigate the incident.

Sunimalee Aruni Fernando, a victim, said families are waiting for justice to be done.

"Justice can only be achieved if they are punished and to avoid such actions in future. The government cannot cover it with money, houses or other benefits," said Fernando.

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