EXCLUSIVE: The killers and the killed. One year later, some of Sri Lanka’s bomb survivors say their loved ones did not die in vain.11 April 2020
Near the entrance to Saint Sebastian church, visitors and worshippers also huddle around a large pinboard with photographs of people were carrying out bodies.
Also displayed are photos of a ceremony attended by the island’s Catholic Cardinal three months later. By then, the church had been totally restored by army units – who still check all worshippers as they come through new iron gates.
On the church floor at the exact place where the suicide bomber ran in and detonated his explosive belt, a glass panel has been placed over craters carved by his bomb blast.
On April 21 it will be a year since Islamist extremist suicide bombers attacked three tourist hotels and three churches, killing 259 people. Many more have been left with horrific injuries – and deep psychological damage.
The local Catholic priests say a number of survivors, especially mothers who have lost their children, have expressed a desire to end their
But several told correspondent.world they have found meaning in a belief that they must have survived for a purpose, to show other people how even the worst pain cannot destroy the human spirit.
Correspondent.world also visited a woman whose eight-month-old baby boy Dinuja Mathew was killed, along with her own mother. Another daughter was injured. The woman has four pieces of shrapnel still lodged in her body – surgeons say it is safer to leave them there.
Bereaved woman shows photo of her dead son Dinjula Mathew, alongside her two other children who survived. The dead boy’s grandmother was also killed in the Easter bomb explosions.
At the St Sebastian Church correspondent.world encountered an 11-year-old girl who had been rushed to hospital on the day of terror, with two bits of shrapnel lodged in her brain. Though she now says very little and never smiles, she has been making daily improvements.
Correspondent.world went back to her home, where she still clutches teddies given to her in hospital as she recuperated – and proudly sits alongside papier-mâché flowers she used to make as her hobby. A section of her skull, removed to allow her swollen brain to subside, has already been sewn back.
Her father later took correspondent.world to see the graveyard where, among scores of other victims, four of his nieces and nephews lie buried. Their photos adorn marble gravestones.