A Dundee man has told of being left “paralysed” with grief after four of his family members were killed in the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka.
It comes as a large crowd of local residents joined religious leaders and politicians in the City Square for a candlelit vigil in a show of solidarity with the Asian country.
Dundee University lecturer and Sri Lankan Fiona Kumari Campbell organised the event on Friday in response to the attacks which killed 253 people, including at least 45 children, and injured at least 500.
St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Zion Church in Batticaloa and St Anthony’s Shrine in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo were targeted along with three hotels in the city. Explosions were also reported in the Dehiwala and Dematagoda regions.
Sajeewa Fernando, 44, hails from Negombo – which is nicknamed locally as “Little Rome” due to the majority Catholic population.
The father-of-three, an economics student who has lived in Dundee with wife Randima for two years, lost four members of his family in the blast in his home city. Another two were seriously injured.
He said he was “completely paralysed” with grief when he heard the news on Easter Sunday.
“It was such a sad situation, especially for the Catholic and Christian populations in Sri Lanka,” Mr Fernando said.
“They are very much a minority, innocent victims in this. It is unbelievable, I am wondering why it happened. I was shocked, completely paralysed.
“It was a shock actually after 10 years. We had a 30 year-war with the Tamil Tigers, it was completely finished in 2009. Within the ten years period there has been no bomb blasts, we never had that kind of violence.”
He added that relatives have been hard to reach since the incident and he is unable to go back to visit family due to the “security situation” the attacks have created.
Mr Fernando said: “It is actually very hard to reach (relatives) at the moment now, you can’t go. The security situation is not good. It is very sad being far away from here to Sri Lanka.
“We feel that the Dundonian people came together – especially the university people, the politicians, the religious leaders. They came here for remembrance, all our people in Sri Lanka are affected by the attack.
“We feel that we are not alone.”
More than 70 people attended the ceremony in the City Square.
Vigil organiser Dr Campbell said: “This shows support and solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka which is important.
“There are Sri Lankans in Scotland and I thought it was good for the community to come together.”
The crowd heard speakers and multi-faith prayers. This was followed by the lighting of candles or incense during which Errin Mathieson played a violin solo. Finally there was three minute silence.
Councillor John Alexander, leader of Dundee City Council, said: “Sadly these events are taking place across the world too often. I think it’s important that we show solidarity with the victims of attacks like this.”
People were able to sign a book of condolence which will be given to the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in London.