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    Nov 18, 2015

    $71m reward for aid in seizing Russian plane bombers


    THE Russian government is offering a US$50 million (S$71 million) reward to anyone who helps it detain those responsible for placing a bomb on a Russian passenger jet which broke up over Egypt last month, killing 224 people, the Tass news agency reported yesterday.

    News of the reward came after the Kremlin said for the first time that a bomb had ripped apart the plane, and promised to hunt down those responsible and intensify its air strikes on Islamist militants in Syria in response.

    "We will find them anywhere on the planet and punish them," Russian President Vladimir Putin said of the plane bombers, in a sombre Kremlin meeting which was broadcast yesterday.

    "It must be intensified in such a way that the criminals understand that retribution is inevitable," he said, referring to the air strike campaign.

    Until now, Russia had played down assertions from Western countries that the crash was a terrorist incident, saying it was important to let the official investigation run its course.

    But in a late night Kremlin meeting on Monday, three days after Islamist gunmen and bombers killed 129 people in Paris, Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's FSB security service, told a meeting chaired by Mr Putin that traces of foreign-made explosives had been found on fragments of the downed plane and on passengers' personal belongings.

    "We can unequivocally say it was a terrorist act," Mr Bortnikov said.