Sri Lanka Bombings 'In Retaliation' For Christchurch Terror Attack, Minister Says
Authorities have said Sri Lanka's Easter Sunday attacks appear to have been carried out 'in retaliation' for the Christchurch terror attack.
In a special Parliament sitting on Tuesday, Sri Lanka's state minister for defence Ruwan Wijewardene confirmed the death toll from the attacks on churches and hotels has risen to 321 people, including 38 foreigners, with 521 injured.
He said initial investigations indicated the attacks were a retaliation against the terror attack on two mosques in the New Zealand city on March 15.
"We believe [the massacre] was carried out by an extreme Islamist group as a reprisal to the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand," Wijewardene said in a statement to parliament.
"This group is known to have links to an organisation named National Thowheed Jamath. We should take immediate steps to ban any such organisation that have links to extremist elements."
It comes as the Sri Lankan government faces mounting pressure over action taken in response to a warning this month about a possible attack on churches by National Thowheeth Jamaath, a little-known domestic Islamist group.
Police have arrested 40 people -- most of them Sri Lankans -- over the coordinated bomb attacks in the capital of Colombo which officials said were carried out by at least seven suicide bombers on three churches and four hotels.
Tuesday was declared a national day of mourning as funerals of some of the victims were held.
Among those killed were two Australians -- Manik Suriaaratchi and her 10-year-old daughter Alexandria -- whose husband and father has spoken of the devastating moment he ran back into a church to find them.
The government imposed a state of emergency on Monday, giving police and the military extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders.
With AAP/ Reuters.