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Sri Lanka minister: Easter bombings a response to NZ attacks

Last Updated Apr 23, 2019 at 9:10 am PDT

FILE - A Sri Lankan family mourns next to the coffins of their three family member, all victims of Easter Sunday bombing, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, April 23, 2019. The six near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels and three related blasts later Sunday were the South Asian island nation's deadliest violence in a decade while Sri Lanka police arrested 40 suspects in the wake of a state of emergency that took effect Tuesday giving the military war-time powers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Sri Lanka state minister of defense said Easter attack was 'carried out in retaliation' for New Zealand mosque shooting

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka Easter Sunday attack via its Aamaq news agency

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — A top Sri Lanka official said Tuesday the Easter bombings that killed 321 people were carried out by a Islamic fundamentalists in apparent retaliation for the New Zealand mosque massacres last month by a white supremacist, while the Islamic State group sought to claim responsibility for the suicide blasts at churches, hotels and other sites.

The comments in Parliament by Ruwan Wijewardene, the state minister of defense, came shortly before IS asserted it was responsible for the bombings in and outside of Colombo, although the group gave no evidence to support its claims. Sri Lankan authorities previously blamed the attack on National Towheed Jamaar, a little-known Islamic extremist group in the island nation.

Wijewardene also blamed “weakness” within Sri Lanka’s security apparatus for failing to prevent the nine bombings.

“By now it has been established that the intelligence units were aware of this attack and a group of responsible people were informed about the impending attack,” Wijewardene said. “However, this information has been circulated among only a few officials.”

He said the government had evidence that the bombings were carried out “by an Islamic fundamentalist group” in retaliation for the mosque shootings on March 15 in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 50 people, although he did not disclose what the evidence was.