COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNN Newsource) – Tuesday was an official Day of Mourning in Sri Lanka — and a day of apologies.
A memorial has been held for some of those killed in Sunday’s terror attacks.
At least 321 people died after bombers targeted four hotels and three churches on Easter.
On Tuesday, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks. Sri Lankan leaders say it may have been in retaliation to the mosque shootings in New Zealand last month.
Sri Lanka’s government says it failed to act after it had intelligence that a plot was being hatched.
St. Anthony’s Shrine is one of the churches targeted by at least six suicide bombers that have been identified by the government so far. The church was still an active crime scene on Tuesday.
St. Anthony’s is the church Kent State Trumbull professor, Vic Perera, went to when he lived in Sri Lanka. He still has loved ones who live there and he visits multiple times a year.
Administrator of St. Anthony’s, Father Jude Fernando, was in his office when it happened.
“I was in my office to read out the notices and so around 8:45, the blast took place and I can’t even imagine the sound of that blast. I’ve never heard it like that and clearly, God saved my life because I was not even injured. And immediately, I came inside the church and I saw people screaming, crying, and I started — with the help of the community, and staff and priest — to send each and every one to the hospital who are injured and then the armed forces, they took over. And still, investigation is going on so we are unable to give any exact numbers because we don’t know…but the church is extensively damaged so you can’t just simply send anyone inside. So we have to first get the clearance and then see how other things are moving.”
Dozens of suspects have been arrested and police really don’t know how large this terror network is — a terror network that U.S. intelligence officials say may have connections to ISIS.
The attack was highly coordinated, deliberately shocking and deliberately brutal.
The bomb blast at St. Anthony’s was so intense, it destroyed a good portion of the sanctuary. It’s not safe to go inside and police have been out, standing guard.
Investigators are still searching through the debris and recovering bodies.
One of the fathers said they’ve recovered at least 30 bodies so far but they don’t know what else they’re going to find.
It’s a similar situation at other churches and the hotels targeted in Colombo and several other locations throughout Sri Lanka.
The country is still coming to grips with this tragedy, mourning those who were lost and praying for the hundreds who are still in the hospital recovering.
Sri Lanka is now living in fear of what other attacks may be coming if the government isn’t able to bring all of the suspects behind this into custody.