The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombings that killed over 300 people at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. The group’s Amaq News Agency made the claim on Tuesday.
A government official said the bombings were retaliation for the killing of 50 people last month at mosques in New Zealand, but he did not offer any evidence for the claim.
He said they were carried out by two Islamist extremist groups. The first funerals were held at a damaged church in western Sri Lanka, where as many as 100 parishioners were killed by a suicide bomber.
The coffins, many bearing the remains of children, were interred at the police raised the death toll from the coordinated attacks to 321.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister on Tuesday informed the parliament that local extremist group “National Towheed Jamaat’’ was linked to a global terror network. Wickremesinghe said that following Sunday’s deadly attacks search operations were ongoing to nab more suspects, who were linked to this group. The prime minister assured that all steps would be taken to prevent terrorism from raising its head in the island country again. “This was an attack which had been planned for a long time. There were handlers, who were guiding the suicide bombers. “Police are working to arrest them. We have to consider these extremists to be a part of a global terror network,” the prime minister said. “We will never allow another war to begin in this country,” he added. State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament that initial investigations had revealed that Sunday’s explosions by the local group was in retaliation to the Christchurch attacks in New Zealand. He said the “National Tawheed Jamaat” were behind the attacks and further investigations were underway. The minister expressed his condolences to all the victims and their families, including the foreign nationals, who had died or got injured in the explosions. He also promised to arrest all those involved. Opposition Leader and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa urged all citizens to unite at this hour of grief and offered his condolences to all victims and their families. According to police, the death toll from a string of explosions that rocked Sri Lanka on Sunday rose to 310 while over 500 were injured. Similarly, Forty-five children were killed and dozens were injured in the suicide attacks across Sri Lanka, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in Geneva. The youngest of the 13 children, who died in the city of Batticaloa was 18 months old, according to UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac. In Negombo, the blast in St Sebastian’s Church killed 27 children. In addition, five foreign children were confirmed dead. “No child should experience such a heartbreaking situation and no parents should lose their child forever under such horrible circumstances,” Boulierac said. Boulierac added that also many children lost parents in the attacks.