Egypt says still no proof ‘terrorist’ attack downed Russia plane

Egypt says still no proof ‘terrorist’ attack downed Russia plane

CAIRO – Agence France-Presse
Egypt says still no proof ‘terrorist’ attack downed Russia plane

In this Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015 photo provided by Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, Egyptian Military on cars approach a plane's tail at the wreckage of a passenger jet bound for St. Petersburg in Russia that crashed in Hassana, Egypt. AP Photo

Egypt said on Dec. 14 that it still has no evidence to back up Moscow’s analysis that a “terrorist” attack had downed a Russian passenger plane at the end of October in the Sinai Peninsula.

The jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) said it smuggled a bomb on board that blew up the Russian jet on Oct. 31, killing all 224 people on board.

On Nov. 17, Moscow said an investigation had found that the plane which took off from the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh was brought down by a bomb on board, a view shared by aviation experts.

“The technical committee has not received to date any indication of the presence of illicit meddling or a terrorist action,” said Ayman el-Mokkadem, the Egyptian head of a probe into the crash.

“The committee continues its work concerning the technical investigation,” he said in a statement released by the civil aviation ministry.

The A-321 airliner operated by Russia’s Metrojet and bound for Saint Petersburg broke up mid-air over the Sinai, 23 minutes after take-off.

The wreckage fell several kilometers across North Sinai - the bastion of the Egyptian branch of ISIL. 

Days after the crash, Moscow halted all Russian flights to and from Egypt. Britain too has suspended air links with Sharm el-Sheikh.

“I can only recall the conclusion of our experts and our special services that indicates it was really a terrorist act,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said, reacting to Mokkadem’s remarks.

On Nov. 17, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced that Russian investigators had found evidence of a bomb on board, and vowed to punish the attackers.

“We will search for them anywhere they might hide. We will find them in any part of the world and punish them,” he said.

The same day, Russian security chief Alexander Bortnikov said the passenger jet was brought down by a bomb with a force equivalent to one kilogram of TNT.

“We can say unequivocally that this was a terrorist attack,” he said.