Sri Lanka bombings: Christchurch retaliation suggested, ISIS claim responsibility

A politician has told the Sri Lankan Parliament that the bombings there in the weekend were a retaliation for the Christchurch mosque attacks on 15 April, but has given no details.

The Prime Ministers of both Sri Lanka and New Zealand say that this claim is ‘premature’.

ISIS have claimed responsibility for the bombings, but it is not clear to what extent, if any.

RNZ: Easter Sunday bombings were retaliation against New Zealand mosque attack – Minister

A Sri Lanka official says initial investigation shows Easter Sunday bombings were a retaliation against New Zealand mosque attack.

A series of coordinated blasts in churches and hotels hit Sri Lanka on Sunday leaving 321 people dead and 500 injured.

“The initial investigation has revealed that this was in retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attack,” junior minister for defence Ruwan Wijewardene told parliament.

“It was done by National Thawheed Jama’ut along with JMI,” he said, referring to another local group, Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim.

However, the Associated Press said Mr Wijewardene made the statement about retaliation “without providing evidence or explaining where the information came from”.

So it isn’t clear if this is based on information or facts, or if it is just speculation.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “We have seen reports of the statement from the Sri Lankan Minister of state for defence, alleging a link between the the Easter Sunday terrorist attack and the March 15 attack in Christchurch.

“We understand the Sri Lankan investigation into the attack is in its early stages. New Zealand has not yet seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based.

While it was always possible the Sri Lankan bombings could be in some way linked to the Christchurch shootings I doubt that is the whole explanation.

Finding seven people wiling to be suicide bombers, training and equipping them and planning and carrying out a co-ordinated attack would take time, weeks perhaps, but likely months. Christchurch could just be being used as a convenient excuse, with the connection being used to stir up division and fear.

ABC News:  ISIS claims responsibility for Sri Lanka Easter bombings that killed over 300

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a wave of coordinated bombings at churches and high-end hotels across Sri Lanka.

The terrorist organization offered no evidence to support that assertion, which was initially announced in a statement in Arabic published by its Amaq news agency on Tuesday, saying the attackers were “among the fighters of the Islamic State,” according to a translation by SITE Intelligence Group, a company that tracks extremist groups.

ISIS later issued a longer, formal statement identifying the seven suicide bombers who detonated explosive-laden vests at the churches and hotels and a housing complex on Sunday.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged the claim during a press conference in the capital, Colombo.

“All that we knew earlier is that there were foreign links and that this could not have been done just locally,” Wickremesinghe said. “There has been training done and a coordination which we [have] not seen earlier.”

According to multiple U.S. sources briefed on the investigation, ISIS is believed to have been involved in the Sri Lanka attacks in a supportive capacity, but it’s not clear to what degree.

There is always a risk of escalation of terrorism. Violent extremists aim to generate as much publicity and provoke as much fear as possible. Terrorism was established as a global threat with the 9-11 attacks in New York in 2001, and the subsequent retaliation by the US in Iraq that began in 2003 but spread to other countries in the Middle East.

Violence begets violence. There will always be a risk of mass shootings, of bombings, and of other atrocities, but the best way to minimise the risks is to fight violence and provocation with peace and dignified defiance, along with vigilant security systems.

We know that ISIS and other violent extremists are intent on provoking bigger, wider conflict. That risks of that must be minimised, which means minimising irrational and over the top reactions.

 

Key on Chinese trade allegations

John Key has played down allegations that China is threatening retaliation against New Zealand over an investigation into the quality of steel imported from China – see China allegedly threatens NZ on trade.

Stuff: John Key downplays retaliation suggestions over potential China steel import sanctions

Prime Minister John Key has downplayed fears of a trade war from China if sanctions are slapped on its steel, saying he has received “no indication” the world superpower is upset with New Zealand.

Highly-placed sources have confirmed China is applying pressure in an attempt to sway regulators at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) away from imposing anti-dumping or countervailing duties – which are imposed when goods are subsidised – on cheap imported Chinese steel.

Speaking shortly after his arrival in Indonesia for a three-day trade trip, Key sought to pour cold water on the idea of any Chinese retaliation.

While he could not confirm whether MBIE had received a complaint about steel dumping, due to the confidentiality of the complaints regime, the Government had received “no indications” of Chinese concerns about possible anti-dumping duties, or potential retribution.

“Even if there was a complaint, and even if it was investigated, whether a country like China would take retaliatory action against New Zealand, I don’t believe that’s the case that they would.”

“There’ll be lots and lots of ways of them looking to resolve issues if there were any, but it wouldn’t be through the sort of things that we’ve seen reported.”

Key said there was no “substantiated source” confirming that China would take action against New Zealand exports, only speculation.

“People can have their own version or view … of what they think might happen, but our exports are flowing across the border into China.

“I regularly see the Chinese leadership, the Chinese ambassador has my phone number if he wants to pick it up and make a phone call – none of those things have happened.”

However it appears that the allegations have been taken seriously

Kiwi trade officials have been asked to “seek assurances” from the Chinese embassy about the country’s stance on competition issues, as local exporters worry about a backlash.

McClay had asked officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to speak to the Chinese embassy on Monday morning and “seek assurances” about the country’s position on competition issues.

McClay said he had no concerns about imported Chinese steel coming into New Zealand.

“We’re a trading nation, we sell a lot of things to China and other parts of the world, and we import a lot of things from them as well, so in as far as our trade relationships are concerned, with China it’s very strong.”

Perhaps “highly-placed sources” have tried to fight back against threats by leaking to media.

Regardless of whether the allegations of threats are true or not it is likely that China won’t be happy seeing this played out in public.