Catholic Mass services in Sri Lanka are cancelled for a second weekend

Catholic Mass services in Sri Lanka are cancelled for a second weekend after warnings of two possible attacks on churches

  • Church received ‘specific information of two possible attacks against churches’ 
  • It decided to call off May 5 mass, a spokesman for Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said
  • It had planned to resume public services for the first time since Easter attacks 

Catholic services are being cancelled for a second weekend in Sri Lanka’s capital amid fears of fresh bomb attacks.

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

‘On the advice of the security forces, we have decided not to have Sunday masses in any of the churches,’ the spokesman said.

The Church received ‘specific information of two possible attacks against churches,’ and it was decided to call off the May 5 mass, a spokesman for Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith (pictured) said 

A view of St. Sebastian’s Church, which was damaged in the blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, on Easter Sunday

The Church had planned to resume public services for the first time since the Easter Sunday attacks at churches and luxury hotels which killed 257 people. 

Last week, Muslims were told to stay home for Friday prayers and all of Sri Lanka’s Catholic churches were closed. 

Instead of the usual Sunday Mass in Colombo, Ranjith delivered a homily before clergy and national leaders at his residence that aired on television. 

A Cabinet minister said Tuesday that intelligence warnings had indicated government ministers could be targeted by the same Islamic State-linked group that carried out the April 21 suicide bombings.

Wreckage: Sri Lankan security personnel inspect the damage at St Anthony’s Shrine

Investigators at the scene of a bombing at St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, on April 22

Ranjith has criticised the government’s apparent failure to share near-specific intelligence on the Easter plot and some of the suspects involved.

Sri Lankan police late Wednesday released the names and photographs of nine suicide bombers who carried out the Easter attacks. 

They included extremist preacher Mohamed Zahran, also known as Zahran Hashim, who was described as the attack leader. 

It also revealed a suicide bomber’s wife, who blew herself up, along with her children and three police officers, at a villa belonging to her father-in-law, who is a prominent spice trader.

An inside view of the St. Anthony’s Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade in Colombo 

Authorities suspect members of two previously little-known groups – National Thawheedh Jamaath (NTJ) and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim – of carrying out the attacks, although the Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility.

The government lifted a ban on social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and viber, a source at the president’s office said. The ban had been imposed immediately after the attacks to prevent the spread of rumours.

The government also banned women from wearing face veils under an emergency law put in place after the Easter attacks. 

Sri Lanka’s 22 million population is mostly Buddhist but includes minority Christians, Muslims and Hindus. 

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