Sri Lanka bomb blasts: Chaminda Vaas, Rangana Herath call for unity

Published: Apr 23, 2019, 15:54 IST | mid-day online desk |

Sri Lankan authorities arrested 24 people in connection with the multiple blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in the island nation on Easter Sunday, killing over 290 people and injuring around 500 others.

Chaminda Vaas
Chaminda Vaas

Expressing dismay and shock at the multiple bomb blasts that killed and injured hundreds of people in Sri Lanka, the country's former cricketers Chaminda Vaas and Rangana Herath on Tuesday said the need of the hour is to stay strong and united.

Sri Lankan authorities arrested 24 people in connection with the multiple blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in the island nation on Easter Sunday, killing over 290 people and injuring around 500 others.

"So sad to see. We never thought these kinds of things will happen in Sri Lanka. It is a lovely country and hospitable. People are very friendly. It is so tragic to see such things happen," Vaas told reporters here.

"We need to rebuild. We can rebuild churches or hotels but we can't bring lives back. I am sure the Sri Lankan government and the people will be very united this time an make sure that we stick together," said the former left arm pacer who scalped 400 ODI and 355 Test wickets in his illustrious career.

Vaas and his former teammate Herath were here to inaugurate a local T20 cricket tournament organised by Jwala Singh.

Herath, one of the best left-arm spinners of his time, said his country needs to stay strong during such times.

"We need to convey our deepest sympathies and condolences. As Chaminda said, we are a united country. We kind of have a panic situation but (we are sure that) we (will) become a strong country," he added.

Vaas expressed confidence that the situation would be normal again in Sri Lanka.

"This attack can happen anywhere in the world. We saw in New Zealand recently as well. These people don't have simply one place (and) they can attack anywhere in the world. I am pretty sure that things will go back to normal," Vaas remarked.

Earlier, A string of eight powerful blasts, including suicide attacks, struck churches and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing 215 people, including three Indians, and shattering a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the LTTE.

The blasts - one of the deadliest attacks in the country's history - targeted St Anthony's Church in Colombo, St Sebastian's Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa around 8.45 a.m. (local time) as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said. Explosions were reported from three five-star hotels - the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury in Colombo.

Gunasekera confirmed 207 deaths. However, the News 1st channel said that 215 people have died in the blasts. Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Kishu Gomes said 33 foreign nationals have been killed in the coordinated attacks believed to be carried out by a single group. Director of the National Hospital Dr Anil Jasinghe identified 12 of the 33 foreign nationals, which include three Indians, two Chinese and one each from Poland, Denmark, Japan, Pakistan, America, Morocco and Bangladesh.

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