In the latest development from Sri Lanka, the Islamic State has reportedly claimed responsibility for the bombings that took place on Easter Sunday, which wreaked devastation across eight locations—mainly churches and luxury hotels—in the island nation. According to a report published by Reuters, the group’s Amaq news agency made the claim for the explosions, which killed 321 and injured over 500 Sri Lankans and foreign tourists.
The claim reportedly states, “The perpetrators of the attack that targeted nationals of the countries of the coalitions and Christians in Sri Lanka before yesterday are fighters from the Islamic State.”
As of now, the group has not given any form of evidence for its claim.
Earlier today, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had addressed the parliament, saying “it is possible” the Sunday bombings were in retaliation for the shooting in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15. The Sri Lankan minister of state for defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, had also told a special sitting at the parliament that the attack was a “retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch”. However, both statements by the political leaders have been made without public evidence.
Over the last two days, while no group claimed responsibility for the bombings, government officials had been pointing at a local Islamist radical group called National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), as the chief suspect. Additionally, Sri Lankan Cabinet Minister Rajitha Senaratne had previously stated that the NTF has received help from an “international” terror outfit.
The Guardian reports that an intelligence memo was circulated to some in government weeks before the attacks, which identified one member of the terrorist group posting “extremist content” on his social media accounts after the Christchurch shooting.
In the light of this, the office of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reportedly said they are aware of comments linking the Sri Lanka bombings to the ones in Christchurch last month though it hasn’t “seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based”. According to an Associated Press report, the office also added that it understood that “the Sri Lankan investigation into the attack is in its early stages.”
While the island nation remains in a state of emergency, developments have also included the emergence of footage of a suspected suicide bomber entering St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, where at least 110 people died.
The nation observes National Day of Mourning today and conducted mass funerals. Since midnight, the country has also been in a state of emergency, which gives the police forces additional powers to stop and search suspects. Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando told the media today that while the state intelligence service has informed the government of a small domestic criminal group, the FBI has already started investigations, while the Interpol is expected to arrive today.
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This article originally appeared on VICE IN.