The Australian Sinhalese community is in mourning after the news that two of its members were killed in Sunday’s Sri Lankan terror attacks.
At a vigil in Melbourne for those who lost their lives, Fahim Mawjood told SBS News that Australian citizens Manik Suriyaaratchi and her 10-year-old daughter Alexendria were killed when a bomb went off inside the church in Negombo.
“They were here, they were Australian citizens and they went back three or four years back to look after their mother,” he said.
Ms Suriyaaratchi’s husband was parking the car at the time of the blast and is uninjured, Mr Mawjood said.
Akeela Mawjood said she had known the little girl since “she was two or three, she was really nice.”
Sri Lankan community grieving the loss of hundreds of compatriots killed in vicious attacks
Ms Suriyaaratchi was the founder and managing director of Omega Global, a business management company that facilitates the entrance of international brands into new countries and regional locations.
The company has international offices in Colombo, Singapore and Melbourne.
Last year, she appeared on a panel of leading Sri Lankan entrepreneurs organised by The Australian High Commission and the Australia Sri Lanka Alumni.
On Monday evening, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that two Australians had been killed and another two injured in Sunday’s attacks, which saw eight blasts rip through high-end hotels and churches during Easter services.
The government has not yet confirmed the identities of the victims.
“We deeply regret these deaths and we extend our deepest and most sincere sympathies to the family,” he said.
“Two Australians have lost their lives in this terrible massacre. My heart is full of grief for them and their families. I’m sure all Australians’ are.”
Mr Morrison said the two injured Australians, a woman in her 50s and another in her 20s, had suffered from shrapnel wounds and a broken leg and were receiving consular assistance.
In a joint statement with Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Mr Morrison said the government had been in contact with their Sri Lankan counterparts, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, to convey “Australia’s deepest condolences” and offer support.
“Australia stands with the people of Sri Lanka as they continue to come to terms with this senseless and barbaric attack. The Australian Government utterly condemns all acts of terrorism and violence,” the statement reads.
Two Australians killed in Sri Lanka: Scott Morrison
Opposition leader Bill Shorten offered his “sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of people snatched away in this cowardly manner”.
“Whenever we hear the reports of terror, devastation and death overseas, instinctively all Australians hope and pray that there are none of our fellow citizens’ caught up in this act of evil,” he said.
“At a time like this, politics is not important. At a time like this, we are all Australians.”
On Monday morning, the death toll from the attacks rose significantly to 290, with about 500 people wounded.
Sri Lankan police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekera declined to give a breakdown of the victims.
Police have arrested 13 men in connection with bomb blasts on churches and hotels that killed more than 200 people, officials said.