Sri Lanka’s worst terror attack on Easter Sunday, targeting churches and luxury hotels, was carried out by local Islamic extremists in retaliation for the last March 15 mosque shootings at Christchurch in New Zealand, State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said at an emergency session of Parliament on Tuesday, citing results of the initial probe.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” he said.
As many as 50 people were killed and several injured when a white supremacist attacked two mosques in Christchurch.
According to an intelligence memo sent to some government officials before the attack, a member of the Islamic extremist group blamed for the Sri Lanka attacks had posted “extremist content” on social media after the Christchurch shootings, Mr. Wijewardene said.
The government has blamed National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ) after seven suicide bombers struck three churches and three hotels. Mr. Wijewardene has proposed banning the NTJ.
The suicide bombers were all Sri Lankan citizens but the group is believed to have links with foreign terrorist networks.
Mr. Wijewardene said the death toll in the gruesome bombings had risen to 321, including 38 foreigners.
Ten Indians were among those killed.
Global terror has reached Sri lanka: Wickremesinghe
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe described the bombings as “global terrorism reaching Sri Lanka.“
Mr. Wickremesinghe, in his address to Parliament, said the attacks were of a different nature than the political objectives of the terrorist campaign, which Sri Lanka faced until 2009 when the three-decade long conflict ended with the defeat of the LTTE.
“The Muslim community is against these attacks. There are only a few who are involved in these attacks,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said, adding that the international community had expressed solidarity with Sri Lanka over the blasts.
The government would deal with the situation and end the threats from extremists, he said.
Rajapaksa blames government
Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa said the government had failed to ensure national security.
“When I handed over the government, it was free of terrorism. No such attack would have happened under my government,” he said, adding that the government must step down if it could not guarantee public security.