Wednesday 22 November 2017

Russia identifies airport worker behind Egypt bomb

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Roland Oliphant in Moscow

Investigators have identified the airport worker who planted a bomb on a Russian passenger jet and was last seen in Turkey, Russian media have claimed.

'Life News', a Russian tabloid site with close links to the security services, said a baggage handler at Sharm el-Sheikh Airport smuggled an explosive device on board Metrojet flight 9268 to St Petersburg in October last year.

The worker, who has not been publicly named, is reportedly one of six individuals Egyptian and Russian security services are hunting in connection with the terror attack.

Metrojet's Airbus 231 exploded over the Sinai Desert 23 minutes after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh on the morning of October 31, killing all 224 people - almost all Russian tourists - on board.

It was the deadliest aviation disaster in Russian history and the country's worst terror attack since the Beslan school siege of 2004.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) claimed responsibility for the attack, and later published what it said was a picture of the device used - a bomb inside a fizzy drinks can.

'LifeNews' claimed the suspected bomber had started working at the airport shortly before the attack, and almost immediately asked to become a baggage handler.

He reportedly fled the airport immediately after planting the device, and shortly afterwards left Egypt and is believed to have last been seen in Turkey.

Russia's security services have not publicly commented on the report.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the suspension of all flights to Egypt and the evacuation of an estimated 80,000 holidaymakers from the country in the aftermath of the attack, citing security concerns.

The move was a major blow to Egypt's tourism industry, which usually receives about three million Russian tourists annually. Russian officials have said flights may resume once security has been improved.

Rosaviatsia, Russia's civil aviation agency, submitted a list of recommendations for improving airport security to the Egyptian government. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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