ISIL claims responsibility for Russian plane crash in Egypt

ISIL claims responsibility for Russian plane crash in Egypt

CAIRO –Reuters
ISIL claims responsibility for Russian plane crash in Egypt

The aircraft had just left the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh when it crashed over Sinai. AFP Photo

A militant group affiliated to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Egypt claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian passenger plane that crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula on Oct. 31, the group said in a statement circulated by supporters on Twitter.

Egyptian security sources said earlier on Oct. 31 that early investigations suggested the plane carrying 224 passengers and crew crashed due to a technical fault.

The claim of responsibility was also carried by the Aamaq website which acts as a semi official news agency for ISIL.

"The fighters of the Islamic State (ISIL) 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," the statement circulated on Twitter said.

The Russian airliner crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula on Saturday after losing radar contact and plummeting from its cruising altitude, killing all aboard.

The Airbus A321, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia under the brand name Metrojet, was flying from the Sinai Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg in Russia when it went down in a desolate mountainous area of central Sinai soon after daybreak, the aviation ministry said.

A north Sinai security source said the plane had landed in a "vertical fashion", explaining the scale of devastation and burning.

The Russian Embassy in Cairo said it had been told by Egyptian officials the pilot had been trying to make an emergency landing at El-Arish.

"I now see a tragic scene," an Egyptian security officer at the site told Reuters by telephone. "A lot of dead on the ground and many who died whilst strapped to their seats.

"The plane split into two, a small part on the tail end that burned and a larger part that crashed into a rock. We have extracted at least 100 bodies and the rest are still inside," the officer, who requested anonymity, said.

Sinai is the scene of an insurgency by militants close to ISIL, who have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police and have also attacked Western targets in recent months.

Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, launched air raids against opposition groups in Syria including ISIL on Sept. 30. Security sources said there was no indication the Airbus had been shot down or blown up.