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Sri Lankan Church leaders declare ‘Black Sunday’ to demand justice for victims of Easter bombings

Catholic Church leaders in Sri Lanka have declared March 7 this year a “Black Sunday” to dramatize their demand for justice for the victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks.

Church bells are set to toll at 8:45 a.m., the time of the near-simultaneous attacks that killed more than 260 people, to signal the start of the recitation of special prayers for justice. The faithful are also encouraged to attend Sunday Mass dressed in black.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo announced that the government has already provided church leaders part of a presidential commission’s report into the bomb attacks that occurred on April 21, 2019.

The cardinal, however, said many questions remain about the findings. “The most important requirement of the commission has not been fulfilled,” said the prelate in a media briefing.

“The misdirection is that instead of concentrating on … finding the people who were directly responsible for this sad event, the focus has gone in the direction of whether those in power at the time fulfilled their responsibilities or not,” the cardinal was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Two local Muslim groups that had pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State have been blamed for the attacks at six locations — two Catholic churches, one Protestant church and three top hotels.

Of those killed, 171 were attending Easter services at Catholic churches. More than 500 people were wounded in the attacks.

Head of Sri Lanka’s Catholic church, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, announces to reporters March 7 as ‘Black Sunday’ demanding justice for the victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday terror attacks, in Colombo on March 2. (Photo by Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP)
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Cardinal Ranjith said the mandate of the commission was to find the people, sources of funding and supporters behind the attacks, but these details were not in the report.

“We want to stress that if there is no concrete action with regard to finding answers to those questions,” said the cardinal.

“We will be forced to call upon the entire nation to protest on the 21st of April, the second anniversary of the bomb attacks,” he added.

Sri Lanka’s government has been criticized for failing to act on warnings from foreign intelligence about the attacks.

There are 2.1 million Catholics in Sri Lanka which has a total population of 21.8 million.

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