(Adds France, Israel, corrects spelling of pope’s name)
April 21 (Reuters) - Easter Day bomb blasts at three Sri Lankan churches and four hotels killed 138 people and wounded more than 400, hospital and police officials said, following a lull in major attacks since the end of the civil war 10 years ago.
Politicians and religious leaders were united in their shock and condemnation. Here are some of their reactions.
“I learned with sadness and pain of the news of the grave attacks, that precisely today, Easter, brought mourning and pain to churches and other places where people were gathered in Sri Lanka,” he told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square to hear his Easter Sunday message.
“I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, hit while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence.”
“World Jewry - in fact all civilized people - denounce this heinous outrage and appeal for zero tolerance of those who use terror to advance their objectives. This truly barbarous assault on peaceful worshippers on one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar serves as a painful reminder that the war against terror must be at the top of the international agenda and pursued relentlessly,” he said in a statement.
“Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels,” he tweeted. “... We stand ready to help!”
“It is shocking that people who had gathered to celebrate Easter were the deliberate target of vicious attacks,” she wrote in a letter of condolence to Sri Lanka’s president.
“Deep sorrow following the terrorist attacks against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. We firmly condemn these heinous acts. All our solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and our thoughts go out to all victims’ relatives on this Easter Day,” he said on Twitter.
“The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time. We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear,” she tweeted.
“Terror and barbarity will never defeat us,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Even on Easter Sunday, there are those who sow hatred and reap death. The attacks in Sri Lanka churches testify to a real genocide perpetrated against Christians. Let us pray for the innocent victims and work towards religious freedom around the world,” he said on Twitter.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER
“It was with horror and sadness that I heard of the bombings in Sri Lanka costing the lives of so many people. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who had gathered to worship peacefully or come to visit this beautiful country. We stand ready to support,” he said on Twitter.
“The attacks in Sri Lanka, including those at prayer celebrating Easter Sunday are a despicable crime. We are all children of God; an attack on one religion is an attack on us all,” he said on Twitter.
“I condemn in the strongest terms possible the Easter terror attacks in Sri Lanka. This is an assault on all of humanity,” he tweeted.
“Terribly saddened by terrorist attacks on Sri Lankan worshippers during Easter. Condolences to friendly govt & people of Sri Lanka. Our thoughts & prayers with the victims & their families. Terrorism is a global menace with no religion: it must be condemned & confronted globally,” he said on Twitter.
“New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on the 15th of March. To see an attack in Sri Lanka while people were in churches and at hotels is devastating,” she said in a written statement.
“New Zealand rejects all forms of extremism and stands for freedom of religion and the right to worship safely. Collectively we must find the will and the answers to end such violence.” (Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Editing by Alison Williams and Nick Macfie)