02/09/2009, 00.00
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Christians in the south pray for Tamil war victims

by Melani Manel Perera
Initiative called ‘Hope for a distressed people’ is taken in Colombo. Apostolic nuncio visits Jaffma and expresses great concern for Tamils in Vanni area. Suicide attack occurs in a safe zone reception centre. Mingling with refugees, woman blows herself up, killing 23 and injuring 64.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Christians in southern Sri Lanka are praying for the people of the north, victims of the ongoing war. Various groups of faithful met last Saturday afternoon at Our Lady of Fatima Church in central Colombo asking God’s for his blessing and his protection for the hundreds of people living in the combat zone where Tamil Tiger rebels and army troops are still fighting.

Priests, men and women religious and lay people took part in a moment of prayer called “Hope for Distressed People” that was organised by the Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM). Prayers began with readings from the Bible in Tamil and Sinhala.

Speaking to those present, Fr Sarath Iddamalgoda, a CSM organiser, said that “during the month of January about 422 have been killed.” Furthermore, citing a report by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic diocese of Jaffna, he said that people living in the war-torn area “had only 48 hours to leave their homes and villages to reach the government-controlled safe zone. And despite this, 80 people died and 230 were injured over that period of time.”

“It is sad that many people in the south do not try to understand this pain,” a Sinhala Catholic woman told AsiaNews. “Any death caused by this war, whether that of someone fighting on the government side or on the LTTE’s side, is the loss of a valuable life; it is a human life.”

“We are not allowed to go north to help the people who need help,” complained a young Methodist man. “Hence, all we can do is express our solidarity and be close to them in our prayers.”

Mgr Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio, also expressed solidarity to the people of the north as he visited the diocese of Jaffna and the refugee camps of the area.

In Jaffna’s St Mary Cathedral the papal envoy celebrated a special Sunday mass yesterday for the safety of Tamils in Vanni and for lasting peace in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile military operations continue as civilians seek safety along the S35 Road.

This morning 15 soldiers and eight civilians were killed by a suicide attack at a reception centre in North Visuamadu, inside the safe zone.

Mingling with refugees arriving in the area a woman blew herself up, injuring also 24 soldiers and 40 civilians, including women and children.

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See also
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Dead or alive, Tamil Tiger leader’s fate sealed
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