Sri Lanka attacks: Islamic State claims responsibility
Terror group claim comes as authorities face anger over failure to act on warnings
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka that killed 359 people and wounded about 500.
The group’s Amaq news agency released a statement saying its “fighters” were responsible for the attack and also listed the names of the suicide bombers, who were shown in a video swearing allegiance to IS.
The terror group said that it had “targeted nationals of the crusader alliance [the anti-IS coalition led by the US] and Christians in Sri Lanka”.
Although IS has made false claims of responsibility in the past, experts say the attacks on three churches and luxury hotels bear the hallmarks of the group.
If the official investigation into the bombings confirms IS involvement, The Guardian says it would “suggest [IS] retains the ability to launch devastating strikes around the world despite multiple defeats in the Middle East”.
In addition, The Times's Richard Spencer suggests the attack “may mark definitively” the divorce between “al-Qaeda, with a calculated ideology and clearly defined ‘centre’", and IS, “an essentially opportunistic and nihilistic movement... to which anyone who wishes to indulge in violence can subscribe”.
The news comes as Sri Lankan authorities face criticism over reports that they had received repeated warnings from Indian intelligence services about a potential suicide attack against churches.
A Sri Lankan defence official told Reuters that a warning was sent by Indian officials on Saturday night, and a source in the Indian government source said two similar messages had been given to Sri Lankan intelligence agents, on 4 April and 20 April.
However, Sri Lanka's president, Maithripala Sirisena, insisted reports of threats had not been shared with him and vowed to overhaul state security.
In a televised address, he announced changes to the heads of defence forces “within 24 hours”, saying: “The security officials who got the intelligence report from a foreign nation did not share it with me. I have decided to take stern action against these officials.”