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At least 176 children lost either one or both of their parents in the Sri Lanka Easter Sunday bombings, according to the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.  Just over six months ago, at St. Anthony’s Shrine in the country’s capital saw a powerful explosion rip apart the bodies of worshippers.  The shrine has already been rebuilt, but its congregation could not hold back their tears as they met for a packed Sunday service on the six month anniversary, October 21, although not all survivors were yet emotionally ready to return to the parish.

Of the more than 250 people who died in the bombings in 3 churches and 3 hotels in Sri Lanka, 54 were from St. Anthony’s, announced the priest, Fr. Jude Fernando during the service as armed military personnel guarded the church.  At least 106 worshippers were wounded in the explosion, he added. Riswani, a mother of two and a convert from Islam, still cannot hear in one ear, which was wounded in the bombing.  She was attending Easter service with her 7 month-old daughter, Athara. When her husband, Michel Thass, arrived, delayed as their 5 year-old son wanted to sleep longer, he found his wife lying on the floor, covered with pieces of flesh and blood from other victims.

Baby Athara was found lying at a distance, her intestines hanging out of her stomach.  Athara, who’s had to undergo 3 surgeries, has recovered, but her mother is still in a state of recovery.  Islamist extremists bombed three churches, including St. Sebastian’s in Negombo (close to Colombo international airport) and the evangelical Zion Church in the city of Batticaloa, several hundred miles east from the capital.  In Batticaloa, some injured victims remain hospitalised, still unaware that members of their family have been injured.  Helping victims deal with their emotional trauma is the biggest need at the moment, but there are few Christian counsellors available.

Source: World Watch Monitor