“We haven’t received anything officially nor have we received any intelligence reports that corroborate what has been said in Sri Lanka,” Ardern told a press conference, stressing that she did not want to interfere in the investigation but merely wished to communicate that her government had no information to back up reports the two massacres were connected.
Sri Lankan junior minister for defense Rowan Wijewardene told parliament on Tuesday that a preliminary investigation had revealed the bombings, which left 359 dead and hundreds more injured, were perpetrated by “an Islamic fundamentalist group” in retaliation for the shooting attack carried out in two New Zealand mosques last month. Specifically, he named the National Thawheed Jama’ut and the Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim, though the Islamic State belatedly came forward on Tuesday to claim responsibility and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has since told media he believes there could be a possible connection to that group.
Some security analysts, however, expressed doubt that Sunday’s attacks – a series of blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels – could have been put together in just a month. Like the bombings in Sri Lanka, however, the Christchurch shooting attack was by far the worst outburst of violence to befall New Zealand in recent history.
A total of 58 suspects in Sunday’s bombings have been arrested as of Wednesday, according to Sri Lankan police. While multiple arrests were made following the Christchurch shootings, the murders were ultimately pinned on a single gunman, who notoriously live-streamed some of the massacre on social media, leading New Zealand to impose a blackout on several websites accused of hosting copies of the video and threaten individuals who shared it with jail time. Sri Lankan authorities also imposed a partial social-media blackout in the wake of the attacks.