Bomb did destroy plane – Russia

DEATH SITE: An Egyptian military helicopter flies over debris from the Russian airliner which crashed in the Hassana area in Arish City in the Sinai peninsula last month. Picture: REUTERS
DEATH SITE: An Egyptian military helicopter flies over debris from the Russian airliner which crashed in the Hassana area in Arish City in the Sinai peninsula last month. Picture: REUTERS

Putin vows to punish airliner terrorists

THE Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt last month was destroyed by a terrorist bomb, Russia’s top security official confirmed yesterday as Egyptian authorities detained two employees of Sharm el-Sheikh airport.

Russia’s FSB security service said yesterday it was certain a bomb had brought down the plane, joining Britain and the United States in reaching that conclusion.

Egypt has not yet confirmed that a bomb downed the jet.

Alexander Bortnikov, the director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, said in a televised meeting with President Vladimir Putin that improvised explosives equivalent to 1.4kg of TNT had detonated on board the Airbus A321 shortly after it took off from Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board.

“I can say that it was a terrorist attack,” Bortnikov said. “As a result, the aircraft broke up in the air, which explains the wide distribution of parts of the fuselage,” he said at a security council meeting broadcast on Russian national television.

The agency announced a $50-million (R710-million) reward for information leading to the arrest of the terrorists who blew up the flight.

Later yesterday, Egyptian authorities said 17 people were being held, and two of them were suspected of having helped whoever planted the bomb on the plane at the airport.

A security official said CCTV footage showed a baggage handler carrying a suitcase from an airport building to another man, who was loading luggage onto the doomed airliner from beneath the plane on the runway.

Putin said those responsible would be found and punished.

“We will look for them everywhere, wherever they are hiding. We will find them in any corner of the planet and punish them,” he said.

“Anyone who tries to assist these criminals must know that the consequences of attempted concealment will lie entirely on their shoulders.”

Putin convened a meeting of his security council, including his top spies and defence chiefs, late on Monday night after returning from the G20 summit of world leaders in Turkey.

Metrojet flight 7K9268 to St Petersburg exploded over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula just 20 minutes after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh on October 21.

The crash was Russia’s worst-ever air disaster.

A group affiliated with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Putin also ordered the Russian foreign ministry to appeal to other governments for help in tracking down the perpetrators.

He said the Russian airforce would intensify air strikes in Syria.

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