COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka's state minister of defense says the Easter Sunday bombings were "carried out in retaliation" for attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15.
Ruwan Wijewardene made the comment to lawmakers in Parliament on Tuesday, without providing evidence or explaining where the information came from.
He said the toll from coordinated bombings at churches, luxury hotels and other sites now stands at 321 people dead and 500 injured.
The government has blamed a local Islamist militant group for the attacks.
The U.S. State Department confirmed that at least four Americans were killed in the series of bombings. The department says that in addition to those killed, several others were seriously injured.
Officials at an elite Washington-area private school confirmed the death of one of its students in Sri Lanka in an email to parents.
The Washington Post has reported the fifth-grade boy, Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa, had been on leave for the last year in Sri Lanka and was killed in the bomb attacks on Easter Sunday.
The Sri Lankan government believes a local Islamist extremist group called the National Thowheed Jama'ath (NTJ) were the alleged attackers behind the coordinated suicide bombings, government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne said Monday.
All of the bombers were Sri Lankan citizens, but authorities suspect foreign links, Senaratne said at a news conference.