Remembering The Victims Of The Easter Sunday Attacks In Sri Lanka

Apr 23, 2019
Originally published on April 23, 2019 3:15 pm
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Funerals have been taking place across Sri Lanka for some of the more than 300 people killed.

NPR's Greg Myre has some of their stories.

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UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing in foreign language).

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: About 20 miles north of the capital, Colombo, a funeral mass was held for more than two dozen victims of the Easter Sunday bombings. Of the more than 300 people killed, many were children, according to UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac.

CHRISTOPHE BOULIERAC: So far, 45 children have been killed. Some of the children who have been injured are currently fighting for their lives.

MYRE: Most of the dead were Sri Lankan Christians killed in the church attacks. Christians are less than 10% of the country's population and were spared the worst of the fighting during the country's long civil war in this mostly Buddhist nation.

But this time, Christians were targeted. Priests in white robes and black sashes are presiding over many funeral services.

The dead include a 13-year-old girl described at her funeral as being the child of a Catholic mother and a Muslim father.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Foreign language spoken).

MYRE: In addition to the Sri Lankan casualties, about 40 foreigners lost their lives in the explosions at the hotels. A man from Denver, Dieter Kowalski, was among the victims. So was a fifth-grader from Washington, D.C., Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa. Danish billionaire Anders Povlsen and his wife lost three of their four children.

One of the hotels hit, the Cinnamon Grand, held private funeral services with religious leaders from the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities. Fifteen guests and five staff members were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives during brunch in the hotel restaurant.

A hotel spokeswoman declined to be interviewed on tape, but she told NPR, quote, "we need to say our goodbyes. There is a sense of sadness and loss." And at this burial service for multiple victims, a backhoe placed dirt atop the coffins.

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MYRE: There are many more funerals still to come.

Greg Myre, NPR News.

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