- Sri Lankan Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said at a news conference that officials believe the local militant group National Thowfeek Jamaath (NTJ) is responsible for the Easter bombings that killed nearly 300 people on Sunday.
- No group has yet admitted to carrying out the bombings, which hit churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.
- NTJ is a little known group that was created at least three years ago. It was reportedly linked to vandalism that targeted Buddhist temples last year.
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The terror group believed to have carried out the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka is a local militant group that was reportedly linked to vandalism that targeted Buddhist temples last year.
No group has admitted to carrying out the bombings, but Sri Lankan Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said at a news conference that officials believe the local militant group National Thowfeek Jamaath (NTJ) is responsible for all of Sunday’s attacks.
Senaratne said all seven suicide bombers linked to the attacks at churches and hotels that happened nearly simultaneously were Sri Lanka citizens. He said three later bombings are still being investigated.
The group’s social media presence is quiet, and its Twitter has been silent since March 2018, and its Facebook page only updated every few weeks.
According to the BBC, the group’s website is down, though it is unknown if it was taken own before or after the attacks on Sunday.
It is believed that the organisation split off from another group in the country, called Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ).
The SLTJ is more established, and its secretary, Abdul Razik, was arrested for inciting hatred against Buddhists in 2016.
NTJ was started at least three years ago in eastern Sri Lanka and was generally seen as anti-Buddhist, the New York Times reported.
In December, NTJ was linked to the vandalism of Buddhist temples in Mawanella, according to the BBC.
Sri Lankan telecommunications minister, Harin Fernando, tweeted a warning sent by Sri Lanka’s police chief earlier this month, in which NTJ was named, according to BBC’s translation.
The document warned that NTJ was planning to attack churches and the Indian High Commission.
While NTJ is a domestic group, Senaratne said that foreign connections are believed to have aided them.
“We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,” he added. “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”
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