Sri Lankan Defense Minister Says Easter Attacks Were ‘Retaliation’ for Massacre of Muslims in Christchurch

On Tuesday, Sri Lanka began a national day of mourning with three minutes of silence for the victims [Carl Court/Getty Images]
On Tuesday, Sri Lanka began a national day of mourning with three minutes of silence for the victims [Carl Court/Getty Images]

Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombings were retaliation for a recent attack on mosques in New Zealand, the country’s state minister of defence said on Tuesday.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka (on Sunday) was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament.

Fifty people were killed in shooting attacks on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on March 15.

A little-known Muslim organisation, National Thawheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), has been linked to the worst attacks on the Indian Ocean nation since its civil war ended a decade ago.

Wijewardene said that along with NTJ, another local group, Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim (JMI) was also believed to be involved in the attacks.

“It was done by National Thawheed Jama’ut along with JMI,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament that investigators were looking into foreign links.

At least 40 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks and a state of emergency, giving police extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders.

An overnight curfew has also been imposed since Sunday.

Wijewardene said immediate steps should be taken to ban such organisations and called for all suspects to be apprehended.

A prominent Muslim organisation in Sri Lanka said all perpetrators should be brought to justice, adding that it was ready to assist the victims of the blasts.

“We do not have information to make a comment about that [the accusations]. But as a community, we should have some introspection and see how these groups have come into being,” NM Ameen, the president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, said.

“From what we know, it is a small radicalised Muslim organisation that has caused these devastations. We do not have enough information to say it has global links,” Ameen told Al Jazeera.

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SOURCE: Al Jazeera

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