Sri Lanka: 'Sudden increase' in violence against Christians

There were 10 anti-Christian incidents in Sri Lanka in March, according to Barnabas Fund.

They include a brutal attack on a pastor's home and a church that was burnt to the ground.

In Katuwana, Pastor Pradeep Kumara has faced intense opposition to his ministry. On 18 March, Buddhist extremists launched a violent attack on his home, which was being used for worship meetings.

His wife and children returned home to discover attackers damaging the property. Pastor Kumara was not at home at the time. When the assailants threatened his wife, she called her husband and the police. Although four officers turned up they were unable to bring the mob under control.

Barnabas Fund reports that the attack went on for more than three hours and only stopped when they received promises that no more worship meetings would be held in the house.

Last December, Buddhists attacked Pastor Kumara's church during a service, damaging equipment, furniture and vehicles.

Pastor Kumara was injured during the attack and told to leave the church "or be killed".

The Supreme Court is considering the case.

A church building in Batticalao was torched on March 9 and a few days later, a pastor from Angunakolapelessa was reportedly threatened by police who told him to stop holding services.

Other churches have received threats and been told to stop holding their meetings.

Barnabas Fund said: "It is rare to hear of so many anti-Christian incidents in one month in Sri Lanka; these may indicate a concerted campaign by Buddhists.

"On 24 March, hard-line Buddhist group the Bodu Bala Sena said that Sri Lanka is not multiracial or multi-religious but a Sinhala Buddhist country. Secretary Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara thera said that the country should be ready to rally against what he described as Christian and Muslim extremist groups operating in the country.

"The Christian minority, who comprise around 8% of the Sri Lankan population, are vulnerable to discrimination and attack, as Buddhism is afforded the "foremost place" by the government. The authorities consequently do little to investigate or prevent attacks by Buddhist extremists."