As suicide bombers detonated backpacks crammed with explosives at crowded churches and hotels across the island nation, Sivarajasingam questioned how a loving God could allow His worshippers to face so bloody an Easter Sunday. “We went to church to worship the risen Lord, and Catholic people did the same. But at that moment I really thought, ‘Is He alive? Why did He not stop this kind of brutal attack? He is the Almighty.’ There were more than 100 wounded around me, and I really got mad. I did not have answers for what I was seeing.”
In the weeks following the Easter bombings, the country’s small but vibrant Christian community has been searching for many answers surrounding why it was the target of one of the largest attacks by Islamist terrorists in the past five years. With hundreds of families facing losses, and hundreds still hospitalized, the close-knit churches face mounting financial costs and emotional scars. Confronted with ongoing threats, they have been forced to cancel Sunday services and other gatherings.
Besides St. Anthony’s, the suicide bombers struck St. Sebastian’s, another Catholic church 20 miles north of the capital in Negombo, then Zion Church in Batticaloa on the east coast, one of the country’s largest evangelical churches. In between, they hit the Shangri-La Hotel’s Table One Restaurant in Colombo—a popular spot for foreign tourists where Easter brunch was underway—along with the Kingsbury Hotel and the Cinnamon Grand.
The same day, an afternoon hotel explosion killed two people. Then Sri Lankan air force personnel defused a pipe bomb loaded with 110 pounds of explosives at an airport near Negombo, and three policemen died when a suspect they were questioning detonated herself.