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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Russian officials: Airbus crashed over Sinai was brought down by a bomb

Wreckage of Russian passenger jet crashed over Sinai
(Image: Mashable)
Russian officials declared on Tuesday, 17 November, that a homemade explosive device planted inside the airplane was the cause of the airplane crash over Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, that occurred on 31 October and killed all 224 people on board.

ISIS group has claimed responsibility for downing of a Russian airplane and stated it was an act of retaliation for Russian airstrikes and bombings of Syria.

The Head of Russian intelligence service FSB Alexander Bortnikov declared it on Tuesday during the official meeting with the Russian President Vladimit Putin and Russian officials including Defense Ministry representatives.

According to the report explosive traces were found on the airplane's wreckage and the belongings of the passengers. The explosive device was most likely planted inside the airplane, probably inside the luggage section, according to Russian officials citing the results of the investigation of the tragedy. It explains why the airplane fell into pieces and its wreckage were scattered over the large territory of Sinai desert. 

It was also stated that the analysis of the explosive device showed the bomb was manufactured outside of Russia. The bomb could be probably planted inside the airplane with the help of Sharm El-Sheikh airport's worker, most likely of a baggage handler, was mentioned in the report of Mr. Bortnikov. Improvised explosives equivalent to 1,5 kg TNT were used to bring the plane down, according to Russian FSB.

Alexander Bortnikov stated that this airplane crash was definitely an act of terrorism, while briefing Mr. Putin about the results of the investigation.

Vladimir Putin in his turn responded with order to intensify aerial attacks in Syria targeting the positions of ISIS and stated that Russian military operation in Syria must continue and it must be strengthened in a way that the terrorists will understand that "the retribution is inevitable".

In addition to that Russian intelligence services and government offered $ 50m reward for the information regarding the terrorists who perpetrated and organized this terrorist act. Apparently, this is the highest bounty for the information regarding the terrorists in the world's history.

Wreckage of the Russian passenger jet crashed over Sinai
(Image: BBC)
It's worth mentioning though that while USA and UK intelligence officials stated earlier that the intercepted communication between the militants suggested the plane was crashed by a bomb and that it was a terrorist attack, Russia was extremely cautious regarding this issue and suggested to wait the results of the work of an international investigative team working on the airplane's tragedy and consisting of the experts from Russia, Egypt, France, Ireland.

Meanwhile Egyptian officials did not issue any statements regarding the fact that the airplane was brought down by a bomb. Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said on Tuesday that Egyptian government and intelligence service were informed of the results of the investigation conducted by Russians and suggesting the cause of the airplane crash was a bomb only on Tuesday. Mr. Ismail stated that Egypt will "bear in mind" Russian conclusions regarding the airplane tragedy.

Egyptian Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal though cast doubt on Russian declaration and stated that the international investigation team still didn't finish its work and didn't present any official results and conclusions.

However according to the media reports two employees of Sharm El-Sheikh airport were arrested by Egyptian security forces on Tuesday on suspicion of aiding the terrorists and helping them to smuggle the bomb to the airplane.

Russian passenger jet Airbus 321-200 owned by a private Metrojet Company was in the route from Sharm El-Sheikh to St. Petersburg on 31 October and carried on board mostly tourists returning home after their vacation. The airplane crashed over Sinai Peninsula 23 minutes after its takeoff. All the passengers and cabin crew, 224 people in total, were killed in the crash. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and stated it downed the Russian airplane.