India’s PM Narendra Modi has paid tribute to the victims of the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, visiting one of the churches targeted by suicide bombers. The attacks claimed over 250 lives and left hundreds injured.
Modi paid a brief visit to the neighboring country on Sunday, meeting his counterpart Ranil Wickramasingha, as well as other top officials. India’s leader visited one of the sites, targeted by terrorists at Easter – St Anthony’s Church in Colombo – laying flowers and commemorating the victims of the attack.
“I am confident Sri Lanka will rise again. Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka,” Modi tweeted afterwards, sharing footage from the scene. Apart from the Sri Lankan PM, he was accompanied by Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.
The church was among three Catholic sites, targeted by terrorists on April 21. Aside from churches, the suicide bombers also attacked four hotels, clearly seeking to kill as many Christians and foreigners as possible. The perpetrators turned out to be local Muslim radicals, yet foreign links – including to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) have been suspected.
During his Sri Lanka visit, Modi also planted an Ashoka tree sapling at the residence of President Maithripala Sirisena. According to India’s foreign ministry, the gift of the sacred evergreen tree is meant to symbolize “deep roots” and a “strong relationship” between the two countries.