, LONDON, United Kingdom, Nov 5 – The United States and Britain said Wednesday a bomb may have brought down a Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt, as the Islamic State group insisted it caused the disaster.
Britain and Ireland suspended flights to and from the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the plane took off on Saturday bound for Saint Petersburg before crashing minutes later, killing all 224 people on board.
“A bomb is a highly possible scenario,” a US official told AFP. “It would be something that ISIL would want to do,” he added, using an alternate name for the Islamic State (IS) group.
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said that “as more information has come to light, we have become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device”.
The move comes as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is set to hold talks with Cameron in London on Thursday, during his first visit to Britain since he led the army’s overthrow of his predecessor Mohamed Morsi.
In Russia, authorities are expected to bury the first victim of the crash – the country’s deadliest air disaster.
Moscow and Cairo both dismissed IS’s initial claim it brought down the Airbus A-321 in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula, but the jihadists on Wednesday again insisted they were responsible and promised to reveal how.
If confirmed, it would be the first time the militant group, which controls vast tracts of Syria and Iraq, has bombed a passenger plane.
Egyptian officials said investigators probing the plane’s black boxes had extracted the data from one of them for analysis, but added the other had been damaged and required a lot of work.