The Catholic Church canceled Sunday masses in Sri Lanka for the first time ever after a devastating Islamic terror attack killed more than 250 people and injured hundreds more on Easter Sunday.
According to the Associated Press, "Catholic leaders canceled Sunday Masses indefinitely across Sri Lanka and officials urged Muslims to stay home for Friday prayers in an extraordinary call by the clergy to curtail worship."
The Sri Lankan government still has in place strict security protocols leaving many shops closed and the streets empty. Sri Lankan citizens are encouraged to stay indoors as authorities scour the country looking for other accomplices involved in the coordinated attack Christians on Easter Sunday.
Church officials told the press that the Catholic church had a seen a leaked security document indicating there was still a threat. The AP notes that, "Ranjith, who is the archbishop of Colombo, asked the faithful across Sri Lanka to stay home for their own safety. 'We don't want repetitions,' Ranjith said."
Indeed, the Church is taking unprecedented measures to safeguard the faithful. "Giovanni Maria Vian, a church historian and emeritus editor of the Vatican newspaper, said he believed it was the first time the church had cancelled Masses across a country for security reasons," according to the AP.
On Friday evening, a gunbattle between Sri Lankan forces and suspected terrorists left 15 dead including six children after terrorists set off a series of bombs. The deaths came after "police confirmed that the leader of the local militant group blamed for the attack, Mohamed Zahran, died in the suicide bombing at the Shangri-La Hotel, one of six hotels and churches attacked. Zahran appeared in an Islamic State video claiming responsibility for the coordinated assault, and authorities in both Sri Lanka and Australia confirmed links between IS and the attack.