One of the suicide bombers responsible for the deaths of 359 people in a series of bombings in Sri Lanka on Sunday studied in Australia, the country’s junior defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene told a media briefing on Wednesday.
He said the bomber first studied in the UK then in Australia.
“We believe that one of the suicide bombers studied in the UK and later did his postgraduate studies in Australia,” he said.
The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed to 7NEWS.com.au that “one of the alleged suicide bombers involved in the attacks in Sri Lanka has previously held a visa for Australia”.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further on an active investigation,” a spokesperson said.
“The Australian Government will continue to provide assistance requested by Sri Lanka.”
Sri Lankan police have detained 18 more people for questioning over the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels.
So far about 60 people have been detained altogether.
Wijewardenem said they were “well educated” people from the “upper middle class” and “financially independent”.
IS has claimed responsibility for the blasts but no links have yet been established.
However, the terror group has released a video showing eight men pledging allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, with claims one of the men is Zharan Hashin, leader of Sri Lankan Muslim extremist group National Thawheed Jama’ut.
On Tuesday, Wijewardene told parliament two Sri Lankan Islamist groups – the National Thawheed Jama’ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim – were responsible for the assaults.
It is understood that 32 Sri Lankans joined IS in Syria.
It has also been claimed the attack was revenge for the Christchurch mosque massacre on March 15, but New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country’s intelligence services had no evidence that was the case.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan police said on Wednesday they have carried out a controlled explosion of a suspicious motor-scooter parked near the popular Savoy cinema in the capital Colombo.
Police also confirmed that nine suicide bombers carried out the Easter Sunday attacks, including a husband and wife.