BRITS are believed to be among 156 killed in an Easter Sunday terror attack on eight churches and five-star hotels in Sri Lanka today.
Nearly 500 are thought to have been injured when blasts ripped through multiple buildings in Colombo - where tourists were staying and worshippers had gathered for morning mass.
Among the dead are 35 foreigners, local reports say, including nationals from the UK, US, Netherlands and Portugal.
Three churches and three hotels - the luxury Shangri-La Hotel, Cinnamon Grand and The Kingsbury Colombo - were targeted in the devastating attacks.
Hours after the first six were reported, there have been two more fatal blasts in the city - an explosion at a hotel in Dehiwala which killed two, and another in a flats in Dematagoda which reportedly killed three police officers and led to arrests, taking the shocking attacks up to eight.
Two of the explosions this morning - as Christians attended Easter mass - were carried out by suicide bombers, according to a security official.
First, it was an attack on a place of worship, which is a disturbing trend, if you can call it that, among terrorists. For awhile there, they were doing shopping malls, and places of commerce. They've tried military targets. They've gone after places of transport. Now they are assaulting places of worship, which are easy and trusting places (try getting past security at, say, Goldman Sachs, compared to a church or synogogue), and because places of worship are full of people, where they can get large numbers of casualties, maximizing the shock factor, which they seek. We have already seen horrific such attacks by Muslim militants on Christians in Pakistan and Egypt, and on Jews in the United States and well beyond the U.S. Muslim terrorists aren't the only ones going after houses of worship - a stray crazy committed mass murder in mosques in New Zealand, another godless lowlife burned several black churches in the Deep South, and a maniac was caught with a gas can in St. Patrick's Cathedral on a day after the Notre Dame de Paris inferno, whose origins are still being investigated. There was also the monster who opened fire on the Sutherland Springs church in Texas in 2017, and the murderous attacker who targeted the Pittsburgh synogogue who was a Nazi. There's something awful about the growing attacks on peoples of faith, as if faith can't coexist in the modern world full of Internet-obsessed lunatics.
The attacks on the Christians and Jews are notable because they are organized efforts, the work of Muslim militants, and they seem to be intensifying. Sadly, Islam itself is a petri dish for this, because it is a decentralized religion and with a lot of ancient thinking throughout its writings, which enables a lot of discontented miserable people of the modern world who feel like failures otherwise to read it the way they want to read it - sometimes murderously. The latest result is this Islamist attack in Sri Lanka on Christians on their holiest day of the year. And it's not the first of such Easter attacks - we have been horrified to see other Easter attacks on Christians in Egypt and elsewhere with very large numbers of casualties.
What can we say about the specific attack on Sri Lanka? The Islamist attacks on the Colombo, Batticaloa, and Negombo churches were attacks on a vibrant church that's growing by leaps and bounds. According to this Breitbart report, the growth of Christianity in Sri Lanka has been very important in breaking up the ethnic loyalties of Sri Lanka's home country of India (Hindu Tamils and Buddhist Sinhalese) and helping the country come together as one country. Obviously, this doesn't serve the aims of Islamic militants who thrive on conflict and chaos.
For me, the attack was especially horrible because the church there is notable for its attendence by the poor. I've spent time in Sri Lanka and visited the Negombo cathedral, which was one of the attacked churches, a majestic old cathedral of traditional Gothic style out among the palm trees and beach of tourist-friendly Negombo. I've also visited a Sri Lankan mission church, learning much about one near the city of Kandy in central Sri Lanka in late 1997. I remember vividly what a vibrant Catholic church it was, growing by leaps and bounds, led by a local priest who was very devoted to the Virgin Mary, and full of new converts, people spilling out the doorways as they came to attend mass. When I say poor, I mean really poor - the lives of the tea pickers there horrified me with its poverty and backbreaking labor. The Sri Lankan Christians were very poor indeed, but they came literally in their thousands, walking long miles to attend the mass, and vividly to me, wearing their best clothes, the best they could scrape together. It was quite a beautiful spectacle to see how much effort was put into these Christian communities, which as it turns out were very poor and in need of support, and I gladly gave. What's more, their act of worship certainly hasn't been without influence on the rest of the world - any time I don't feel like showing up to mass on a Sunday, I think of this church, which put my lukewarm-ness as a cradle Catholic to shame...and go to mass. In this small way, they brought me closer to the broader Christian community, too. The church made a difference because they made me a better Christian, and undoubtedly others.
According to the background reports, the terrorists who attacked this place of worship were likely Islamists, given that warnings about their intentions were given earlier. The Muslim community is only about 12% of the population there, but there were a certain number of ISIS recruits from, shockingly, prominent wealthy Muslim families. It's likely they are now the attackers. Rich people, attacking the poor? It sounds like someone's rice bowl is threatened, and with Sri Lanka a country that has seen growth by leaps and bounds, one can't help but wondering if there is a class warfare element to these attacks. A group of people is rising in the world. Another group is threatened. Some of the rich kids get terrorist training. It looks like this may be about more than just religion.
But what stands out is that it was a attack on the good. Evil rarely attacks other evil, it has a partiality for attacking the good.