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Sri Lanka Catholics cancel Sunday mass over new bomb fears

A man stands outside St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo a week after the bombings [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 May, 2019

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Sri Lanka's Catholic church has called off plans to resume Sunday mass services after receiving "specific information of two possible attacks against churches".
Sri Lanka's Roman Catholic Church said it had cancelled plans to resume Sunday services because of fears of fresh bomb attacks.

A spokesman for Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said Thursday the Church received "specific information of two possible attacks against churches," and it was decided to call off the May 5 mass.

"On the advice of the security forces, we have decided not to have Sunday masses in any of the churches," the spokesman told AFP. The Church had planned to resume public services for the first time since the Easter Sunday attacks that killed 257 people.

Last Sunday the cardinal conducted a private memorial mass that was broadcast live on television after cancelling all public services.

On Tuesday, he said he was closely monitoring investigations into the April 21 suicide attacks against three churches and three luxury hotels and wanted to be sure of the security situation before returning to regular services.

The services were cancelled a day after all political parties scrapped May Day rallies amid fears of bomb blasts.

Sri Lanka's Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith had hoped to resume
regular services in the country's Catholic churches [Getty]

The cardinal had hoped to start regular services at a few churches from Sunday and then expand depending on the situation.

Three churches, four luxury hotels and a housing complex were targeted by the group of militants.

Sri Lanka's police on Wednesday named nine of the alleged attackers, adding that their assets will be confiscated in line with anti-terror laws.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera confirmed that two of the luxury hotels targeted were bombed by two brothers from a wealthy Colombo family involved in spice exports.

The group of Islamists had used one bomber at each of the locations hit on Easter Sunday, except at Shangri-La hotel where there were two suicide explosions.

The St. Anthony's Church was targeted by a local resident named Ahmed Muaz. His brother has been arrested. The St. Sebastian bomber was Mohamed Hasthun, a resident from the island's east where Hashim was based.

The Christian Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa was hit by a local resident, Mohamed Nasser Mohamed Asad.

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