COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The Latest on the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka (all times local):
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she hasn’t received any official advice from Sri Lanka or seen any intelligence reports to corroborate claims from Sri Lanka’s government that the Easter attacks were in retaliation for the mosque massacres in Christchurch last month.
Ardern told reporters in Auckland that Sri Lanka is in the early stages of its investigation, and that New Zealand plans to stand back and allow it to proceed. She said she hadn’t been in direct contact with Sri Lanka, although officials from the two countries were in contact.
Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene said earlier the government had evidence the bombings were carried out by an Islamic fundamentalist group in retaliation for the March 15 mosque shootings in Christchurch that killed 50 people.
The U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka says the FBI is on the ground in the country to help assist its investigation into the Easter suicide bombings that killed 359 people.
The embassy said it was part of the support extended by President Trump.
The embassy in Colombo declined to immediately elaborate.
Police say the death toll in the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 359 and more suspects have been arrested.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara also said Wednesday morning that 18 suspects were arrested overnight, raising the total detained to 58.
The prime minister warned on Tuesday that several suspects armed with explosives were still at large.
Another top government official said the suicide bombings at the churches, hotels and other sites were carried out by Islamic fundamentalists in apparent retaliation for the New Zealand mosque massacre last month.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attacks and released images that purported to show the attackers. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that investigators were still determining the extent of the bombers’ foreign links.