Minutes before the blast: Children are pictured at Sunday school service where 14 youngsters died

Arms in the air and smiles all round, this picture was taken during a Sunday school session at Zion Church in Batticaloa – less than an hour before the bomb attack that left at least 28 dead.

Around half of the victims were said to have been children – some of whom are thought to be pictured here.

They were caught in the suicide blast as they left Sunday school and played in the grounds of the church.

Around half of the victims were said to have been children – some of whom are thought to be pictured here. They were caught in the suicide blast as they left Sunday school

Around half of the victims were said to have been children – some of whom are thought to be pictured here. They were caught in the suicide blast as they left Sunday school

Around half of the victims were said to have been children – some of whom are thought to be pictured here. They were caught in the suicide blast as they left Sunday school

Brave worshippers are said to have confronted a man ‘acting suspiciously’ outside.

Zion Church’s pastor Father Thiru Kumaran was preparing for the Sunday service when he met the man who he believes was the suicide bomber.

He said: ‘I found a man standing outside our church. He was not part of our usual congregation.

‘He was about 35 years old and he told me his name was Omar, that he was from the nearby town of Oddamavadi and had come to visit our church.’

After he asked when the Easter mass would start, the pastor said he invited ‘Omar’ into his church.

Zion Church’s pastor Father Thiru Kumaran was preparing for the Sunday service when he met the man who he believes was the suicide bomber

Zion Church’s pastor Father Thiru Kumaran was preparing for the Sunday service when he met the man who he believes was the suicide bomber

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Zion Church’s pastor Father Thiru Kumaran was preparing for the Sunday service when he met the man who he believes was the suicide bomber

Shortly after the service began at 9am, Father Kumaran said he heard a blast and turned around to find his church covered in blood, with bodies strewn everywhere – many of which were those of children

Shortly after the service began at 9am, Father Kumaran said he heard a blast and turned around to find his church covered in blood, with bodies strewn everywhere – many of which were those of children

Shortly after the service began at 9am, Father Kumaran said he heard a blast and turned around to find his church covered in blood, with bodies strewn everywhere – many of which were those of children

He said: ‘We have a lot of people from other faiths come to our services, so I invited him in. But he said he was waiting for a friend to call him and would leave once he’d got in touch.

‘He had a rucksack with him and was carrying another bag in his hand. He was not willing to come inside. After he refused, I went inside and began the service and commenced the prayer.’

Shortly after the service began at 9am, Father Kumaran said he heard a blast and turned around to find his church covered in blood, with bodies strewn everywhere – many of which were those of children.

He added: ‘There were small children playing in our churchyard… When the man refused to come in with me and continued to act suspiciously, the other members of the church took him aside and escorted him to the yard. I do not know whether they had an argument or not but shortly after this the blast happened.’

Father Kumaran believed that the attacker had been waiting for the mass to begin to cause the maximum possible casualties. He said: ‘Maybe he was waiting to come into the church after all the parishioners had entered.’

Brave worshippers are said to have confronted a man ‘acting suspiciously’ outside. After he asked when the Easter mass would start, the pastor (pictured above, centre in a file photo) said he invited ‘Omar’ into his church

Brave worshippers are said to have confronted a man ‘acting suspiciously’ outside. After he asked when the Easter mass would start, the pastor (pictured above, centre in a file photo) said he invited ‘Omar’ into his church

Brave worshippers are said to have confronted a man ‘acting suspiciously’ outside. After he asked when the Easter mass would start, the pastor (pictured above, centre in a file photo) said he invited ‘Omar’ into his church

Enllaç hienalouca.com

(Vistes totals: Temps 7, 1 visites per dia)

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