No intelligence linking Sri Lanka attacks to Christchurch shootings: New Zealand PM

No intelligence linking Sri Lanka attacks to Christchurch shootings: New Zealand PM

Wellington (Agencies): New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday said that her government was not aware of any intelligence suggesting that a devastating attack on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for deadly shootings on mosques in Christchurch.

On Tuesday, Sri Lanka's junior minister for defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, told parliament that an initial investigation had revealed the bombings on churches and hotels, which killed 359 people, had been carried out in revenge for deadly shootings in two New Zealand mosques on March 15.

However, security experts and analysts have questioned whether the coordinated bomb attacks could have been planned in such a short period.

Addressing a press conference in in Auckland, PM Ardern said her government was not aware of any intelligence regarding Sri Lanka attacks.

"We haven't received anything officially nor have we received any intelligence reports that corroborate what has been said in Sri Lanka," Prime Minister Ardern told the reporters.

"Sri Lanka will be in the very early stages of its investigations. So we are simply stepping back and allowing them to undertake those, but we have nothing at this stage to corroborate what is being said," she added.

Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attacks on Tuesday and named what it said were seven attackers who carried them out. It gave no further evidence to support its claim of responsibility.

Speaking to a news conference Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that investigators were making progress in identifying the perpetrators and believed there could be some links to the IS.

Earlier, Sri Lanka's junior defence minister had told parliament that two Sri Lankan Islamist groups, the National Thawheed Jama'ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim, were responsible for the blasts early on Sunday during Easter services and as high-end hotels served breakfast.

He did not elaborate on why authorities believed there was a link to the killing of 50 Muslims at mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch during Friday prayers in March.