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Sri Lankan State Minister Reveals Motive Behind Easter Bombings

AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne, File

The bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, which targeted Christians, was retaliation for the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand last month, the country’s junior minister for defense Ruwan Wijweardene told parliament on Tuesday.

“The initial investigation has revealed that this was in retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attack,” the Sri Lankan official said

“It was done by National Thawheed Jama’ut along with JMI,” he added, referring to the local group, Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim. 

On March 15, a heavily armed shooter livestreamed part of his attack on Muslims during Friday prayers at two New Zealand mosques, killing 49 people and injuring more than 20 others.

The death toll from Sunday's attack has reached 321 people with more than 500 injured.

Faith leaders cited by AP said the suspected leader of the little-known militant group -- National Thowfeek Jamaath -- began posting videos online three years ago calling for non-Muslims to be "eliminated." The bombers were all Sri Lankan, but authorities said international ties were suspected. Police have now detained 40 suspects in connection with the attack, including a Syrian national, according to the BBC.

"We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,” Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, according to Reuters. “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded."

Among the 40 people arrested on suspicion of links to the Easter bombings was the driver of a van allegedly used by the suicide bombers and the owner of a house where some of them lived. (

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks on Tuesday, but gave no evidence to support the claim, Reuters reports

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