Sri Lankan students at KU say their nation needs to unite to counter extremists

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Sri Lankan students at the University of Kansas say they're shocked to learn that an Islamist militant group is believed responsible for Sunday's attacks on churches and hotels in their country.

Sri Lankan students say their country needs to unite as one people to fight extremism.

There are about 35 Sri Lankans at KU, most of them are graduate students who hope to return to their homeland and teach.

Some say they have been concerned about security in Sri Lanka in recent years, even though the country has enjoyed a decade of peace, with Buddhists, Muslims and Christians living in harmony.

The reputation of the country's friendly people has made Sri Lanka one of the most popular places in the world to visit.

Now, Sri Lankans like Thilina Desilva worry about that. He's a Buddhist who's married to a Christian from a town where two bombs exploded Sunday.

He was frantically checking on relatives to make sure everyone was safe.

"Close to 25 percent of my relatives are Christians," Desilva said. "So I am really saddened by this incident. I would totally want everybody to unite and go as Sri Lankans rather than as different ethnicities, different believers or religious groups."

Tourism is a huge part of the Sri Lankan economy. And much like the United States, the Sri Lankan students FOX4 talked with say their nation takes pride in welcoming people from different faiths and backgrounds, and they don't want to see that jeopardized by the actions a minority extremist group.

Sri Lankans unfortunately know the pain of suicide bombings all too well. A Tamil insurgent group often used them during the country's civil war, which ended in 2009.

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