Sri Lanka’s state minister of defense said Tuesday that the Easter attack on churches, hotels and other sites was “carried out in retaliation” for the shooting massacre at two New Zealand mosques last month, as the Islamic State group sought to claim responsibility for the attack.
The comments by Ruwan Wijewardene came shortly before the Islamic State group asserted it was responsible for the bombings in and outside of Colombo that killed over 320 people. But neither Wijewardene nor IS provided evidence to immediately support their claims, and authorities previously blamed a little-known Islamic extremist group in the island nation for the attack.
He said the toll from coordinated bombings at churches, luxury hotels, and other sites now stands at 321 people dead and 500 injured.
The government has blamed a local Islamist militant group for the attacks.