Sri Lanka is in a state of shock and confusion, trying to understand how a little-known Islamist group may have unleashed the wave of co-ordinated suicide bombings that resulted in the Easter Sunday carnage – the worst since the end of the civil war a decade ago.
The South Asian island nation has experience of such attacks – suicide bombers were used by Tamil Tiger rebels during the civil war. But the ruthlessness of the new atrocities has stunned the nation anew.
Eventually the government spokesman, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, came out and blamed National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), a home-grown Islamist group, for the bombings.
“There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded,” he told reporters on Monday.
That might go some way to explaining how a group that has been blamed for vandalising Buddhist statues may now have been able to scale up its capacity so monumentally.
On Tuesday, however, the Islamic State (IS) group said its militants had carried out the attacks. It did not provide any details.
The IS claim should be treated cautiously. The group usually claims an attack very soon afterwards, publishing pictures of those who carried it out on its media portal, Amaq.
Political deadlock and confusion
The manner in which NTJ was identified was circuitous. The prime minister said there had been warnings made to officials that hadn’t been shared with the…