CNA Staff, Oct 28, 2020 / 06:19 pm (CNA).- During a visit to Sri Lanka on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, one of the sites of the 2019 Easter bombings.
Pompeo laid a wreath at the shrine in Colombo Oct. 28.
Speaking to the press earlier in the day, he said that “it’s important for me to take a moment to go and visit the Shrine of St. Anthony, one of the five sites that was attacked by ISIS on Easter Sunday of 2019.”
Today, I laid a wreath at the Shrine of St. Anthony, one of the sites of the 2019 #EasterAttacks which killed and injured hundreds of innocent people. We stand with the Sri Lankan people and the world to defeat violent extremism and bring perpetrators to justice. #USwithSL pic.twitter.com/toQYKKHEPp
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 28, 2020
He continued: “I’ll shortly have the chance to pay my respects to the hundreds of victims of evil terrorists, including five Americans. I’m proud that the State Department has offered substantial counterterrorism assistance to help Sri Lankans bring killers of Americans and their own people to justice.”
“These Easter Sunday attacks represent the kind of sectarianism that Sri Lankans are ready to leave behind forever. Sri Lankans of all backgrounds – Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims alike – want a peaceful nation where their human rights are respected.”
Pompeo’s visit to Sri Lanka comes amid a week-long trip during which he is also travelling to India, Maldives, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
The State Department said that he is visiting Colombo “to underscore the commitment of the United States to a partnership with a strong, sovereign Sri Lanka and to advance our common goals for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
In his address with the Sri Lankan foreign minister, Pompeo emphasized their countries’ partnership, and contrasted it with what is sought by China. He added that the US “fully expect(s) that Sri Lanka will fulfill its pledges to take meaningful, concrete steps to promote accountability, justice, and reconciliation.”
On April 21, 2019, two Catholic churches, one evangelical Christian church, four hotels, and a housing complex were hit by nine suicide bombers. The attacks killed 259 people and injured another 500.
Five of seven suspects arrested in connection with the attacks were recently released by the country’s government.
The government has said the suspects were released due to a lack of evidence. However, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, as well as friends and family of the victims, have said they fear the release means corruption, or a lack of a thorough investigation, on the part of the Sri Lankan Criminal Investigation Department.
Earlier this month the nation’s bishops said democracy would decay there if parliament passes a constitutional amendment that would strengthen the president's power.
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