(Worthy News) - Christians in Sri Lanka are reeling from a series of coordinated attacks Sunday that killed 323 people and injured 500 others.
St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, and Zion church in Batticaloa, as well as several hotels that tend to attract foreign nationals, were shaken by explosions that began at 8:45 on Easter Morning.
“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” Sri Lanka’s defense minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, told reporters, referring to the massacre of New Zealand mosque attendees by a white nationalist in March.
IS (ISIS) later claimed responsibility for the attacks, explaining its choice of foreign hotels and churches as a strategic “target[ing] of the [Western] crusader alliance and Christians in Sri Lanka.”
Local residents explained that Muslim attitudes in Sri Lanka have soured toward Christians in recent years.
“Since the past three years, we don’t know why, but we see an extremist’s mindset developing among the Muslims,” Eranda Weththasinghe, a local witness from Negombo, told Morning Star News.
The role of Islamic extremism in the suicide bombings came as a surprise to some who witnessed the conflict in Sri Lanka over the last few decades between the predominantly Hindu Tamil ethnic minority and the Buddhist Sinhalese, who constitute 75% of the population. That civil war was supposed to have ended in 2009, and the country has not seen violence on the scale of Sunday's attacks since.
The U.S. declared ISIS defeated as it lost its final territorial holds in Syria last month.