Please see below an update, further to our report yesterday
Pastor Neil Edirisinghe (37 years) of the House Church Foundation was engaged in ministry in Ampara for many years. On the night of 17th February 2008, at approximately 9 pm, he was brutally gunned down outside his house by two men who had arrived on a motorcycle. The family had just returned home after visiting friends, where they had enjoyed a meal. The attackers also shot his wife Shiromi (aged 31 years) in the stomach. She is received treatment in hospital and her condition is critical. Their 2 year old baby son is suffering from severe trauma and it is reported that he also suffered a minor injury. Pastor Neil made the supreme sacrifice for the Gospel.
The Police have reported that they have arrested 4 persons in connection with the murder. Two of them are Gramarakshaka Niladhari (Home Guards) - an auxiliary force established by the government to assist the Police and military in security and military duties. According to information received, this was a contract killing. Pastor Neil was instrumental in an some prominent person in the area accepting the Gospel and this appears to have angered certain persons who planned his elimination. One of the other persons arrested is a businessman.
While the swift action taken by the Police is commendable, it is important that the accused are brought to trial and those who are guilty must be convicted of their crime.
There have been some instances where on previous occasions there have been arrests for acts of violent religious persecution in Sri Lanka.However, rarely have they resulted in conviction.
The funeral of the martyred pastor will be held on Thursday 21st February in Ampara where he served and died.
NCEASL condemns this senseless and violent act in the strongest terms and call for justice.
Please continue to pray for Shiromi and for their baby son.