Islamic State terrorists took responsibility for causing a Russian passenger jet to crash in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, but have not explained how they might have done so.
Russian and Egyptian authorities believe the plane crashed due to technical issues.
The jet was carrying Russian vacationers back to St Petersburg, but plummeted to the ground killing all 224 people on board, less than 25 minutes after it took off from a resort town on the Red Sea.
A statement from an ISIS-linked group was broadcast on jihadist propaganda channels and shared on Twitter.
“The fighters of the Islamic State were able to down a Russian plane over Sinai province that was carrying over 220 Russian crusaders. They were all killed, thanks be to God.”
Via the Daily Mail:
The claim of responsibility was also carried by the Aamaq website which acts as a semi official news agency for Islamic State.
Egyptian security sources say that their early investigations suggest the plane crashed due to a technical fault.
And Russia’s Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov told reporters that claims that the Russian airliner was shot down by terrorists “can’t be considered accurate.”
We are in close contact with our Egyptian colleagues and aviation authorities in the country. At present, they have no information that would confirm such insinuations.’
While the use of a surface-to-air missile has been dismissed as a potential cause of the crash by officials, an on-board bomb could be a possibility.
The 129 bodies that have been removed from the crash scene so far are being taken to Cairo, where postmortems will be performed to try and determine when the passengers died. The passengers included 214 Russians and three Ukrainians.
This afternoon, German airline Lufthansa said they will no longer fly over the Sinai peninsula ‘as long as the cause for today’s crash has not been clarified’. A spokeswoman for the airline said that ‘security is our highest priority’ claiming that they would use detours to service airports in the region.
Air France has also confirmed that it will not be flying through the Sinai until the reasons behind the crash become clear.
The Federal Aviation Administration in Washington cautioned airlines last summer not to fly below 26,000 feet when passing over the north of the Sinai peninsula in a safety warning, known as a “Notice to Airmen.”
It advised “extreme caution during flight operations due to ongoing violence, unrest security operations and the risk to safety from small arms, rocket propelled grenades, mortars, anti-aircraft fire and shoulder fired, man portable air defence systems”.
The aircraft reportedly “vanished from radar screens at 30,000 feet, however, more than double the effective range of a shoulder-carried ground-to-air weapon system.”
Ayman al-Mugadem of the Aviation Incidents Committee said the pilot had radioed in to air traffic controllers that the aircraft had developed “a technical problem” and he needed to land as soon as possible. He soon lost contact with controllers and vanished from the radar screens.
According to radar data, the aircraft was descending at more than 6,000 feet per minute shortly before the impact.