Jacinda Ardern issues statement on Sri Lanka, draws comparisons to Christchurch attacks

Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Source: Associated Press

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a statement tonight condemning the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and drawing comparisons to last month’s Christchurch mosques shootings.

Officials in Sri Lanka say at least 138 people have died after six simultaneous bombs ignited at churches and high-end hotels. Hours later, two more blasts occurred in the outskirts of the capital, a military spokesperson confirmed. 

“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,” the Prime Minister said. “To see an attack in Sri Lanka while people were in churches and at hotels is devastating.

“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.’’

The brief statement concluded with the Prime Minister saying she wanted offer “New Zealand’s sympathy and support” to Sri Lanka.

New Zealand's Minsitry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says there are currently 115 Kiwis registered as being in Sri Lanka. They are advised to exercise a high degree of vigilance in public areas and to follow any advice issued by local authorities, the spokesperson said.

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At least 20 are dead from the six blasts, authorities have said. Source: 1 NEWS

World leaders ranging from Russia’s Vladimir Putin to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have also issued statements condemning the Sri Lanka attacks.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka has called for those responsible for the Easter Sunday blasts to be punished "mercilessly".

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith called on Sri Lanka's government to launch a "very impartial strong inquiry" and to punish those found responsible "mercilessly because only animals can behave like that".

The series of blasts mark the worst spout of violence in Sri Lanka since the South Asian country's bloody civil war ended a decade ago.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was meeting top military officials and tweeted earlier this evening that "the government is taking immediate steps to contain the situation".