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New Zealand Dy PM slams Sri Lanka-Christchurch terror link claim

Winston Peters also said that his country was being "misused"

Tuesday April 30, 2019 6:52 PM, ummid.com & Agencies

Easter Sunday Blast and Christchurch

Wellington: New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters on Tuesday criticised suggestions that Sri Lanka's Easter Sunday suicide bombings were in retaliation to the Christchurch mosque shootings.

Winston Peters also said that his country was being "misused".

Sri Lanka's State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene last week said that according to early investigations, the Easter carnage which claimed the lives of 253 people had been in revenge for the shootings at two New Zealand mosques on March 15 which killed 50 people.

But Peters, who is also New Zealand's Foreign Minister, said his government had seen no evidence of a link and that expert advice suggested that the Sri Lankan bombings would have been planned well before the Christchurch terror attack.

"It's a slightly cheap shot, I suppose, to try to explain it away. Let's see the evidence. Sometimes it pays to ... get the facts first before you beat your lips with an opinion," Peters told Sky News.

The Minister said it was a "fair suspicion" that the claim had been made to deflect from intelligence failings in Sri Lanka.

"We're not going to stand here and have our country misused," he added.

The latest rebuttal by Winston Peters came about a week after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern while commenting on the claims made by Ruwan Wijewardene said she hasn't received any official word or intelligence reports to corroborate what has been said.

Ardern also added that Sri Lanka's investigation is in its early stages and she is "stepping back" to allow authorities time to conduct their inquiries.

While the IS claimed responsibility for the bloodbath, the Sri Lankan police have in recent days raided the headquarters of a hardline Islamist group -- National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) -- founded by Zahran Hashim, the suspected ringleader of the bombings. Authorities believe that Hashim, the mastermind, was one of the nine suicide bombers in the attacks.

Interestingly a video purportedly of IS founder is also being circulated in the media in which it is claimed that the Sri Lanka attacks were carried to avenge the group's defeat in Syria.

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