Coordinated bombing attacks targeting churches and upscale hotels across Sri Lanka Sunday left hundreds killed and wounded.
President Vincent Price issued a statement Sunday afternoon to the Duke community denouncing the bombings. The victims of the attack were worshipers attending Easter Mass at Roman Catholic churches and guests at high-end hotels popular among foreign tourists, according to the New York Times.
"The tragic Easter Day attacks on Christians worshipping in Sri Lanka show again the horrible human cost of hate and violence," Price wrote. "Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the people of Sri Lanka at home and around the world, whose lives will be forever changed by this act of horrific cowardice."
Price wrote that Duke stands by all students, faculty and staff who are from Sri Lanka as well as anyone else who may have been impacted, adding that "support is available to all who need it."
As of Sunday evening, nearly 300 people had been killed and at least 450 were wounded, the New York Times reported. The attacks were on opposite coasts of the country, hitting two cities on the west coast—Colombo and Negombo—and one city on the east coast—Batticaloa.
Harindra Dassanayake, a presidential adviser in Sri Lanka, told the New York Times that the Sri Lanka government made a "unilateral decision" to turn off access to various social media networks—like Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube. The restrictions were imposed as a precaution to prevent further violence that could stem from the dissemination of misinformation and hate speech.
Thirteen suspects have been arrested in relation to the attacks, the New York Times reported.
From 1983 to 2009, a civil war endured between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil ethnic group. The Tamil militants were known for using suicide bombings. Hemasiri Fernando, the secretary to the Ministry of Defense, explained to the New York Times that “it has been 10 years since we last saw this kind of horror."
"In this season of renewal, as we celebrate Easter and the holy days of many other faith traditions, let us all hope and pray for the peace and healing that we so urgently need," Price wrote.
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