Colombo [Sri Lanka], April 21 (ANI): Remembering the 259 lives lost and those injured in the Easter Sunday attacks a year ago, the office of United Nations in the country on Tuesday called for solidarity between communities to safeguard the health and rights of every citizen as terrorism has no religion, ethnicity or race.
Issuing a statement on the first anniversary of the series of suicide bomb attacks, the UN said as the world faces the threat of yet another virus, COVID-19; solidarity and partnership are vital to ensure a coordinated approach that safeguards the health of every citizen, respects their rights and ensures that no one is left behind in the response to this global threat, Colombo Page reported.
Church bells tolled across the island of Sri Lanka, home to 21 million people, on Tuesday at 8:40 am (local time) to commemorate the moment of the start of an attack that saw six churches and hotels bombed, killing more than 250 people and leaving the nation devastated.
As per Al Jazeera's report, Tuesday's commemoration ceremony, observed by Sri Lankans from their homes, is a simplified version of a more elaborate event that was cancelled owing to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
At present, Sri Lanka remains under an indefinite curfew imposed to curtail the outbreak.
At 8.45 am, the moment that the bomb at St Anthony's Shrine went off, those commemorating observed a two-minute silence, remembering all who lost their lives across the island that day.
The Easter Sunday attacks altered the tone of presidential election campaigns last year, in the run-up to the country's November polls, so much so that Gotabaya Rajapaksa, with a vote bank of Sinhala-Buddhist, announced his candidacy soon after the attacks, and was sworn in as the country's president following that election.
The attacks also crippled Sri Lanka's tourism industry, which is among the top three foreign exchange earners for the economy, as countries slapped travel advisories and warnings soon after the attacks.
Expressing grief over the incident, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa further said that the attack could have been easily prevented.