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Vancouverites mourn victims of Sri Lanka explosions
People across the Lower Mainland are mourning the lives lost in several bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
More than 200 people were killed in a series of coordinated bomb attacks in and around Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.
Three of the explosions went off at churches and another three rocked luxury hotels. Officials said many of the explosions were set off by suicide bombers targeting Christians, a minority in the island nation.
As Easter mass started in Vancouver, several services said a special prayer for the victims.
Clifford Weerpass, the president of the Sri Lankan Friendship Association of B.C. started getting text messages around 8:30 p.m. Saturday. He quickly tried to get in contact with his sister.
“I know my family was travelling towards one of the locations in Negombo where there was a bomb blast. It was my sister’s 60th birthday and they were going towards that area so I had to call them immediately and see they were ok,” Weerpass told CTV News Vancouver.
Thankfully, his family survived. That’s when he turned his attention to helping his community. Weerpass attended Horizon Church in Surrey on Sunday to join with other Sri Lankans in praying for their country.
“To all Sri Lankans living in British Columbia and if you are seeing this in other parts of Canada, please pray for our country. And I hope that your families are safe,” Weerpass said.
Premier John Horgan was quick to condemn the “acts of terror,” tweeting “We must stand together & fight the rise of extremism & hate.”
I’m heartbroken to learn of the church & hotel attacks in Sri Lanka this Easter weekend. Our thoughts are with the loved ones of all those affected. We condemn in the strongest possible terms these acts of terror. We must stand together & fight the rise of extremism & hate.— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) April 21, 2019
Global Affairs Canada said Sunday afternoon that there were no reports of any Canadians killed in the explosions.
Weerpass said the attacks did not make him scared of going to church or make him want to change his routines.
“More than worry I think it is sadness because our little island just got over a 30-year war and there was peace and to have this happen again is more sadness than fear,” he said.
The Sri Lankan Friendship Association of B.C. is planning a peace and unity vigil in honour of the victims on April 28.