Colombo: An initial probe into deadly suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka that killed more than 300 people shows it was "retaliation for Christchurch," the country's deputy defence minister said Tuesday.
"The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka (on Sunday) was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch," state minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament.
Fifty people were killed in shooting attacks on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on March 15.
Speaking to News18, Sri Lanka's Minister of State for Internal and Home Affairs JC Alawathuwala had also said that the attacks could be revenge for the mosque shootings in New Zealand.
"We have detained few youths in connection with the blasts. They are mainly from Panapura (Province of Sabaragamuwa in Sri Lanka) and Dematagoda (suburb in Colombo). Primary leads tell us that it could be an act of revenge for Christchurch mosque attack, where the gunman live-streamed the shootings," he said.
News18 had also spoken to former Indian diplomat G Parthasarathy, who also drew the same link.
"There is no evidence to suggest that Sri Lankans are going to Syria or Iraq in large numbers to join the ISIS or are getting involved in their training programme. But since the primary targets were Christians and the timing was on one of the holiest days for Christianity, this appears as a retribution for the killing of devotees at the mosque in New Zealand,” he said.
On Tuesday, Sri Lankan police detained a Syrian among 40 people being questioned about the attacks on churches and hotels, government and military sources said as the toll from the coordinated bomb attacks rose to 321.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which officials said were carried out by at least seven suicide bombers on three churches and four hotels. About 500 people were also wounded.
However, the focus of suspicion is falling on Islamist militants with links to foreign groups. US intelligence sources said the attacks bore some of the hallmarks of the Islamic State extremist group.