253 people killed in Sri Lanka Easter bombing


photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A memorial was held for the Christchurch mosque shooting

Jazmyn Cameron, Staff Writer

Nine suicide bombers killed at least 253 people and left nearly 500 injured at three Christian churches, three luxury hotels, and a private residence in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. All suspects have either been arrested or are dead.

We never expected it to be so big,” Hemasiri Fernando, the chief of staff to Sri Lanka’s president, told NBC News on Monday. “We never thought it would happen so soon.”

Sri Lankan authorities admitted to missing multiple signs. Sri Lankan officials were warned prior to the attack by foreign agencies April 4. The agencies told of a potential plan of suicide bomber attacks on Christian churches and tourist places, according to government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch, but we are continuing investigations,” Ruwan Wijewardene, the current State Minister of Defense and Mass Media non-cabinet Minister, said.

A gunman opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, while live-streaming the event on Facebook on March 15. There were at least 50 killed and 46 of them hospitalized, 12 of the 46 still in critical condition.

The shooter, a 28-year-old Australian citizen Brenton Tarrant, has now been charged with all 50 murders which include the deaths of immigrants, high school students, young children and refugees. Authorities found an 87-page hate-filled manifesto containing anti-muslim and anti-immigrant ideas.

“It’s just so much…to take in that somebody in our family would do anything like this,” 81-year-old Marie Fitzgerald, grandmother of the alleged shooter, said. “It’s only since he traveled overseas, I think, that that boy has changed completely to the boy we knew.”

He denied any legal representation and wanted to represent himself when he reappeared in court. The lawyer that was assigned to him, before Tarrant denied legal representation, suggested that Tarrant may try to use his trial to show his support for his extremist white nationalist beliefs. There was no initial plea entered by Tarrant during his original court appearance.

“Our gun laws will change,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “I am announcing that New Zealand will ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons. We will also ban all assault rifles.”

She did not give a list of specific types of guns which allowed speculation as to which exact weapons were banned.

“In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country,” Ardern said.

Over 11,000 people have signed a petition opposing tougher gun laws due to the two mosque shootings. The Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen has offered New Zealand it’s full support.

“Attacks on peaceful people in their places of worship is abhorrent,” Nielsen said while speaking at the state of Homeland Security address.

A human chain of hundreds of people was formed around Kilibrine, Mosque in Wellington, New Zealand on Friday, March 22. There was a prayer, a moment of silence and reflection for at least 15 minutes.

“The message from the community was clear,” Sue Teodoro, who was at the prayer, said. “Terrorists will not break New Zealand’s spirit.”