July 02, Colombo: Defense Secretary Major General (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne, who visited the St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, Wednesday (July 1), has taken swift measures to strengthen security and also assured to soon complete the remaining reconstruction work of the Shrine, which was badly damaged due to the Easter Sunday bomb attack.
Following the request of Shrine’s Administrator Rev. Fr. K.A. Jude Raj Fernando to provide additional Police protection to the Shrine’s vicinity, Major General Gunaratne had directed acting IGP Chandana Wickramaratne to strengthen security deploying additional policemen to the Jampettach Police Post to facilitate devotees, the Defense Ministry said.
“We, together with Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, would like to thank President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for his personal interest and commitment for the security and development of the St. Anthony’s Shrine,” Rev.Fr. Fernando said.
The Defense Secretary, who inspected the reconstruction work, which has come to a standstill due to funding, has assured Rev.Fr. Fernando to assist to complete the remaining work with the support of the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN).
Rev.Fr. Fernando said the Catholic community was grateful to the SLN Commander and his team of officials for their commitment and contribution to reconstruct the Shrine immediately after the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attack.
He also briefed the Defense Secretary about the Easter Sunday carnage which took the lives of over 50 devotees and injured hundreds at the church.
Additional Secretary (Defense) P.B.S.C. Nonis and Chief of Staff of Sri Lanka Navy Rear Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne accompanied the Defense Secretary to visit the Shrine.