Crime scene officials inspect the site of a bomb blast inside St Sebastian's Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday. File Photo/Reuters
Devastating Easter bombings in Sri Lanka were retaliation for attacks on mosques in New Zealand, a Sri Lankan official said on Tuesday, as Daesh claimed responsibility for the coordinated blasts that killed 321 people.
Daesh's claim, issued on its AMAQ news agency, came shortly after Sri Lanka said two domestic militant groups, with suspected links to foreign militants, were believed to have been behind the attacks at three churches and four hotels, which wounded about 500 people.
Sri Lanka falls silent for victims of attack
Daesh gave no evidence for its claim. The government has said at least seven suicide bombers were involved.
"The initial investigation has revealed that this was in retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attack," junior minister for defence Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament.
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He did not elaborate on why authorities believed there was a link to the killing of 50 people at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch during Friday prayers on March 15. A lone gunman carried out those attacks.
Wijewardene said two Sri Lankan Islamist groups - the National Thawheed Jama'ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim — were responsible for the blasts early on Sunday during Easter services and as high-end hotels served breakfast.
US intelligence sources said earlier the attacks carried some of the hallmarks of Daesh, even though it had not made an immediate claim of responsibility, as it usually does.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament investigators were looking into foreign links.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which officials said were carried out by at least seven suicide bombers on three churches and four hotels. About 500 people were also wounded.
The deadly blasts in churches in Sri Lanka that killed and wounded hundreds on Easter Sunday is a grim reminder that evil minded people are hell bent in instilling fear in the minds of the faithfuls.
The family was stunned, grieving — and angry. They had just buried three of their own, an elderly couple and their 11-year-old grandson who were killed in their church pews Easter morning, and they lashed out at the government.
Rescuers, including the Philippine Coast Guard and fishermen, saved 195 passengers and 35 crew as the blaze ripped through the ferry off Baluk-Baluk Island in Basilan province.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed expressed his thanks to Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad for his congratulations and the sincere fraternal feelings he showed, wishing the brotherly State of Qatar and its people further progress and development.
Sheikh Sultan’s statement reads, “The Ruler of Sharjah congratulates Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on his appointment as Vice President."
Sheikh Mohammed said, “I congratulate my brothers Sheikh Hazaa, Sheikh Tahnoun, Sheikh Mansour and Sheikh Khaled Bin Mohamed for the confidence in the President of the State. In you and your brothers, the leaders of the new generation, the march continues.”