Deadly Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka have left thousands of Sri Lankan Manitobans shocked and saddened.
“It’s so sudden. It’s hard to even believe because it was so nice and peaceful back there. When we heard a lot of deaths and casualties, it’s sad,” said Gishali Gamage, president of the Sri Lankan Association of Manitoba.
More than 200 people have been killed and hundreds more have been wounded in eight bomb blasts that rocked churches and luxury hotels in or near the capital, Colombo.
It is the deadliest violence the country has seen since a bloody civil war ended a decade ago.
Gamage said there are around 1, 000 families from Sri Lanka living in Manitoba, about 5,000 people.
“People are wanting to celebrate Easter but with this, we don’t know if some will we celebrate,” she said.
Sri Lanka is a multi-religious country. People practice Buddhism, Islam and Christianity.
Gamage said the entire Sri Lankan community is affected.
“It’s nothing about religion, it’s just people.”
Gamage said she has been taking a lot of calls from community members Sunday, and is working on an email see if anyone needs support.
Gamage has visited one of the sites that was attacked, St. Anthony’s Church.
She said it’s known as a scared place and draws some of the most faithful worshippers.
“I feel that they wanted to catch a whole bunch of people,” she said.
Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman expressed his condolences on social media.
-With files from the Associated Press