Islamic State group claims responsibility for Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka – an attack the country's minister of defense said was motivated by a deadly assault on mosques last month in Christchurch, New Zealand.

A statement from the terrorist group's news agency, Amaq, said the attackers who carried out the bombings that killed 321 people and injured hundreds more were fighters of the Islamic State group.

"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," the claim stated, according to the Associated Press.

Although the extremist group took responsibility, there has been no official confirmation and no clear evidence to corroborate the claim. The group has made false statements claiming responsibility for attacks in the past.

Sri Lankan officials have blamed a local Islamic extremist group for the bombings. Ruwan Wijewardene, Sri Lanka's minister of defense, tweeted on Tuesday, demanding the government ban National Thowheeth Jama'ath and list it as a terrorist organization. National Thowheeth Jama'ath is a Sri Lankan jihadist group with ties to the Islamic State group.

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Hundreds killed in Sri Lanka bombings on Easter Sunday
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Hundreds killed in Sri Lanka bombings on Easter Sunday
WARNING: This gallery contains content viewers may find distressing.
ADDS DETAIL OF THE PLACE - This image made from video provided by Hiru TV shows damage inside St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Near simultaneous blasts rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (Hiru TV via AP)
ADDS THE DETAIL OF THE PLACE - This image made from video provided by Hiru TV shows damage inside St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Near simultaneous blasts rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (Hiru TV via AP)
ADDS DETAIL OF THE PLACE - This image made from video provided by Hiru TV shows damage inside St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Near simultaneous blasts rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (Hiru TV via AP)
ADDS THE NAME OF CHURCH - Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred people were killed and hundreds more hospitalized from injuries in near simultaneous blasts that rocked three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, a security official told The Associated Press, in the biggest violence in the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/ Rohan Karunarathne )
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
ADDS THE NAME OF CHURCH - Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan firefighters stand in the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Witnesses are reporting two explosions have hit two churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, causing casualties among worshippers. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan elderly woman is helped near St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds wounded in near simultaneous blasts that rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, officials said. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan firefighters stand in the area around St. Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
People gather outside St. Anthony's Shrine where a blast happened, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Relatives of people killed in Church blasts mourn as they wait outside mortuary of a hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Near simultaneous blasts rocked three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Relatives gather outside a hospital following blasts in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred people were killed and hundreds more hospitalized from injuries in near simultaneous blasts that rocked three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, a security official told The Associated Press, in the biggest violence in the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
A relative of a blast victim grieves outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
A Sri Lankan police commando enters a house suspected to be a hideout of militants following a shoot out in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Relatives of a blast victim grieve outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Relatives of a blast victim grieve outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
A view of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Sri Lankan security forces officers secure a site believed to be a hide out of the militants following a shoot out in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony Shrine after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Sri Lankan army soldiers secure the area around St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Sri Lankans carry a dead body at St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Dead bodies of victims lie inside St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than hundred were killed and hundreds more hospitalized with injuries from eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside of Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday, officials said, the worst violence to hit the South Asian country since its civil war ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne)
Relatives of a blast victim weep outside a police morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. More than two hundred people were killed and hundreds more injured in eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
In this Sunday, April 21, 2019, a view of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan authorities blame seven suicide bombers of a domestic militant group for coordinated Easter bombings that ripped through Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels which killed and injured hundreds of people. It was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne, file)
In this Sunday, April 21, 2019, photo, Sri Lankans carry a dead body at St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan authorities blame seven suicide bombers of a domestic militant group for coordinated Easter bombings that ripped through Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels which killed and injured hundreds of people. It was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne, file)
Relatives cry near the coffin with the remains of 12-year Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church, after it returned home, Monday, April 22, 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Relatives weep near the coffin with the remains of 12-year Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church, Monday, April 22, 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A relative holds an old portrait of 12-year Sneha Savindi, who was a victim of Easter Sunday bombing at St. Sebastian Church, after the coffin returned home, Monday, April 22, 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
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Wijewardene told Parliament on Tuesday that the bombings were "carried out in retaliation" for the attacks on mosques last month in Christchurch, New Zealand. However, he offered no evidence or explanation for the claim.

Police spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara told CNN that "around 40 suspects" have been arrested in connection with Sunday's bombings and that all those in custody are Sri Lankan.

Copyright 2019 U.S. News & World Report

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