UPDATE 10:15 p.m. EST -- Evidence suggests that a bomb planted by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, was the likely cause of Saturday's crash of a Russian airliner in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Reuters reported Wednesday night. The Islamic State group said again Wednesday that it was responsible for the attack, and added that it would eventually tell the world how the attack was carried out.
Britain claimed Wednesday it has information indicating the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt on Saturday, killing all 224 people aboard, may have been brought down by a bomb and that it was suspending flights to and from the Sinai Peninsula as a precaution, the Associated Press reported. British aviation experts were reportedly headed to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where Metrojet Flight 7K9268 originated, to evaluate security before allowing British flights to resume.
Although Britain had flights scheduled to fly to the resort Wednesday, none of the country’s flights departed from there. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office acknowledged in a statement that it cannot “categorically” say why the Russian plane crashed.
“But as more information has come to light, we have become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device,” AP quoted Cameron’s office as saying in the statement.
Ireland also has suspended all flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh until further notice.
However, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry called Britain’s decision to suspend flights “somewhat premature.”
“We can appreciate, of course, the sense of responsibility and desire to provide protection to British citizens. This is a desire that we equally share,” Shoukry said, according to CNN. “But I think it is somewhat premature to make declarations related to what might or might not have happened to the aircraft before the investigation is completed and before there is a definitive cause for this crash.”
A U.S. official reportedly familiar with the matter also revealed that the latest U.S. intelligence suggested that the cause of the crash was most likely a bomb planted by the Islamic State group or an affiliate of the militant group. “There is a definite feeling it was an explosive device planted in luggage or somewhere on the plane,” CNN quoted the official as saying, while emphasizing that no formal conclusion had been reached by the U.S. intelligence community. This preliminary assessment was based on intelligence reports gathered both before and after the plane crash, according to the official.
Another U.S. official stated that intelligence centered on the Islamic State group is partially based on monitoring of internal messages by its members. Those messages are separate from public Islamic State group claims of responsibility, CNN cited that official as saying.
The Islamic State group previously claimed responsibility for the plane crash, but Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called its claim “propaganda.” American and Russian officials also previously cast doubt on the militant group’s assertion that it was behind the plane crash.
However, the Islamic State group did threaten to target Russia’s interests after the country began bombing its positions in Syria, and the militant group released a video Tuesday promising more attacks to come.