Bomb may be the cause of Russian crash
A BOMB may have brought down Russia's Kagolymavia 9268 airliner on Saturday, and if that is established, the culprit is likely to be the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, according to the United States and Britain.
"A bomb is a highly possible scenario," a US official told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday, adding that a deadly sabotage would be something that ISIS would want to do.
"We have concluded that there is a significant possibility that the crash was caused by an explosive device on board the aircraft," Britain's foreign secretary Philip Hammond said on Wednesday, reported Reuters.
Britain and Ireland have suspended flights to and from the Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the Airbus A-321 took off on Saturday bound for St Petersburg.
The plane crashed minutes later in the northern part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board, majority of them Russians.
Russia and Egypt have both dismissed ISIS's initial claim that it brought down the plane.
In a new statement posted online on Wednesday, ISIS again insisted it had planned the crash, saying: "Prove that we didn't bring it down and how it came down. We will detail how it came down at the time of our choosing."
If confirmed, it would be the first time the militant group, which controls vast tracts of Syria and Iraq, has bombed a passenger plane.
Earlier, the ISIS affiliate in Egypt in Sinai has said it had brought down the airliner "in response to Russian air strikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land".
The affiliate, comprised of Islamists and anti-Cairo Bedouin tribesmen, is waging a bloody insurgency in Sinai that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers.
ISIS is not known to possess weapons that could bring down an airliner at high altitude.
Experts say the fact that debris and bodies were strewn over a wide area indicated the aircraft had disintegrated in mid-air, as a result of either a technical fault or a bomb on board.
Russian airline Kagolymavia, which operated the plane, has ruled out technical fault or human error.
A Russian aviation official said investigators are looking into the possibility that an object stowed on board had caused the disaster.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told CNN that he was "somewhat surprised" by the British statement.
He stressed that the case should be clarified through investigation and advised any rash conclusion might have implications on Egypt, including affecting its tourism industry.
Investigators have extracted and validated the contents of one of the two "black boxes" recovered from the Russian plane, Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry said.