IS claims responsibility for Sri Lanka bombings
The militant Islamic State has claimed responsibility for coordinated bombings in Sri Lanka which killed 321 people and injured about 500 others.
Two of the suicide bombers blew themselves up at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel on Colombo’s seafront, said Ariyananda Welianga, a senior official at the government’s forensic division. The others targeted three churches and two other hotels.
A fourth hotel and a house in a suburb of the capital Colombo were also hit, but it was not immediately clear how those attacks were carried out.
Most of the attacks came during Easter services and when hotel guests were sitting down for breakfast buffets.
Police had received a tip-off of a possible attack on churches by a little-known domestic Islamist group some 10 days ago, according to a document seen by Reuters.
The intelligence report, dated April 11, said a foreign intelligence agency had warned authorities of possible attacks on churches by the leader of the group, the National Thawheed Jama’ut. It was not immediately clear what action, if any, was taken on the tip-off.
International anti-terrorism experts said even if a local group had carried out the attacks, it was likely that militant groups Al Qaeda or Islamic State were involved, given the level of sophistication.
“Those that carried out the attack that targeted members of the US-led coalition and Christians in Sri Lanka the day before yesterday are Islamic State group fighters,” said a statement released by IS propaganda agency Amaq said on Tuesday.
The group did not give evidence for its claim.
New Zealand ‘has not seen’ intelligence reports linking Sri Lanka bombings to Christchurch
New Zealand has “not yet seen” any intelligence reports linking the deadly bombings in Sri Lanka to last month’s mosque massacre in Christchurch, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office said late on Tuesday.
A Sri Lankan official earlier on Tuesday said “preliminary investigations” had found that the bombings on Sunday, which left more than 300 dead, were “in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch.”
The March 15 shooting rampage on two Christchurch mosques killed 50 Muslims. A self-proclaimed white nationalist has been charged with the attack.
A spokesperson for Ardern said the government had seen reports of the statement by Sri Lanka’s Minister of state for defence alleging the link between the Easter Sunday attack and Christchurch.
“We understand the Sri Lankan investigation into the attack is in its early stages,” the spokesperson said.
“New Zealand has not yet seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based.”
“New Zealanders oppose terrorism and extreme violence in all its forms. In the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks, it was the condemnation of the perpetrators of violence and a message of peace that unified us all,” they said.