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 island 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.
At least 40 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks and a state of emergency imposed as authorities aimed to maintain security during investigations into the bombings.
On Tuesday, Sri Lanka began a national day of mourning with three minutes of silence for the victims.
More than 500 people have been wounded including 375 who are still being treated in hospital.
The first mass burial for the victims of bombings that struck churches and luxury hotels took place in Colombo on Tuesday.
Mourners and relatives of the victims brought flowers to the memorial service and prayed with the clergy as coffins were being carried in and out of the church.