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    Nov 04, 2015

    Egypt denies ISIS' claim over Russian crash


    EGYPT'S president has dismissed claims that the Russian passenger jet KGL-9268, which crashed in Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, was downed by a branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), calling such talk propaganda.

    Both Cairo and Moscow have played down a claim by the ISIS branch in Egypt that it brought down the charter Airbus 321 to avenge colleagues killed by Russia's recent engagement in the Syria war, The New York Times reported.

    But the insistence on Monday by Russia's Kogalymavia Airlines, which operated the aircraft, that the plane and crew were faultless did not help to squelch the speculation.

    "When there is propaganda that it crashed because of ISIS, this is one way to damage the stability and security of Egypt and the image of Egypt," Mr Sisi told the BBC.

    "Believe me, the situation in Sinai - especially in this limited area - is under our full control," he said.

    On Monday, the United States Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that while he could not rule out ISIS involvement, he thought it "unlikely".

    Analysis of the "black boxes", which could solve the mystery of what happened to the plane, was expected to begin yesterday, Agence France-Presse reported.

    The plane was bound for St Petersburg in Russia from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, when it crashed in Sinai, killing all 224 people on board, majority of them Russians.

    The crash could have been caused by "an external impact on the plane," Alexander Smirnov, Kogalymavia's deputy director for aviation, told a news conference in Moscow on Monday.

    But Mr Smirnov did not endorse the theory of a terrorist attack either, saying that the investigation would have to determine the cause.

    Kogalymavia officials also said a blurry video purporting to show a missile strike on the plane appeared to be fake.

    Analysts have dismissed claims that the jet could have been shot down by ISIS-affiliated groups if it was flying at its cruising height of 9,000m, but do not rule out a bomb might have been planted on board.

    An Egypt-led team, involving investigators from Russia and Ireland, where the aircraft was registered, is examining all possible causes as it combs the remote crash site.