ISIS claims responsibility for Sri Lanka bombings

The terror network did not produce evidence of its involvement, though a local group implicated is believed to be linked to ISIS.

By AP and World Israel News Staff

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that killed at least 321 people on Easter Sunday, according to a statement on its Aamaq news agency.

“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,” said the statement, according to a translation provided by the Associated Press.

Earlier, Sri Lankan authorities blamed a local Islamic terrorist group called National Thowheeth Jama’ath, which is believed to have ties to ISIS. Experts are expressing the assessment that the local group would have needed help to carry out such an expansive attack.

Though the perpetrators were believed to have been Sri Lankan nationals, at least one suspect was identified as Syrian.

In its statement, ISIS did not produce proof of its involvement. It offered no photographs or videos of attackers pledging their loyalty to the group. Having lost all the territory it once held in Syria and Iraq, ISIS has made a series of unsupported claims of responsibility.

Sri Lanka’s minister of defense said the bombings were “carried out in retaliation” for attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15. Ruwan Wijewardene made the comment in parliament on Tuesday, without providing evidence or elaborating on the source of the information.

The Christchurch shootings killed 50 people.

The office of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that she is aware of comments linking the Sri Lanka bombings to the mosque attacks in Christchurch, though it has not “seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based.”  The office added that it understood that “the Sri Lankan investigation into the attack is in its early stages.”

Sri Lanka is under a state of emergency and the military is operating under enhanced war-time powers following the attacks, which also wounded hundreds.