Catholic church leaders in Sri Lanka say they aren’t satisfied with how the government has handled the investigation following the Easter Sunday attacks that left over 250 people dead.
In an interview with reporters, Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Ranjith shared criticism of the government’s efforts, warning citizens may take the law in their own hands if not handled properly. “All the security forces should be involved and function as if on war footing,” Ranjith told reporters according to AP.
“I want to state that we may not be able to keep people under control in the absence of a stronger security program,” he added. “We can’t forever give them false promises and keep them calm.”
He went on to encourage the government “to implement a proper program in order that the people don’t take the law into their own hands.”
Since the initial attacks, more events have happened which have brought even greater fear to the Sri Lanka citizens. Over the weekend, Islamic terrorists, in response to a raid by Sri Lankan security forces, opened fire and set off explosives. The attack left 15 people dead, including six children.
“Their only intention is to kill as many as possible,” an investigator said. “That is different than the Tamil Tigers. They wanted to control land. These people want to kill as many as possible.”
The Tamil Tigers was a separatist group the government defeated in 2009 after a 26-year civil war.
Citizens have feared living out their daily lives as the government warns more militants remain on the loose. The Catholic church has suspended mass indefinitely and Muslim women are now required to stop wearing veils in public.
In a vigil celebrating the memory of the victims, and bringing hope to the broken nation, the archbishop led prayers from his home on Sunday. The vigil was televised across the nation and the world.
“This is a time our hearts are tested by the great destruction that took place last Sunday,” Ranjith said. “This is a time questions such as, ‘Does God truly love us, does he have compassion toward us?’ can arise in human hearts.”
All schools are closed till May 6, but Catholic schools may stay closed even longer if the government doesn’t do enough to protect the church from Islamic extremists.