Egypt says it has found no evidence of terrorism so far in crash of Metrojet Flight 9268
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the crash that killed 224 people
Russia has said a bomb brought down the plane; it had no comment on Egypt's claim
Egyptian investigators have so far found no evidence of terrorism in October’s deadly crash of a Russian passenger jet in Sinai, authorities said Monday, offering a sharply contrasting view from that of Moscow.
Russian security officials have said they believe a bomb brought down Metrojet Flight 9268, and the Islamic extremist group ISIS has claimed it planted an explosive device in a soda can on the plane.
But Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry issued a statement Monday citing lead investigator Ayman Al-Muqaddam as saying his team has found nothing so far that “indicates illegitimate interference or an act of terrorism.”
From the beginning, Egyptian officials have steadfastly played down terrorism links to the October 31 crash that killed all 224 people aboard the Airbus A321-200.
The Kremlin declined to comment on the Egyptian report.
“I can recall the conclusion of our experts from the relevant agencies who arrived to the conclusion that it was a terrorist attack,” Russian state news agency Tass quoted President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, as saying.
Russia says homemade bomb downed plane
Russian authorities had initially resisted suggestions a terrorist act brought down the plane soon after it took off from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
But they reversed that stance last month, declaring a homemade bomb with the explosive power of 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of TNT had detonated aboard Flight 9268.
The explosives explained why fragments of the plane were scattered over a large area, the head of the Russian Federal Security Service told Putin, according to the Kremlin.
“This is not the first time Russia experiences barbaric terrorist crime, usually without any obvious internal or external causes, the way it was with the explosion at the railway station in Volgograd at the end of 2013,” Putin said at the time.
Russia has offered a $50 million reward for information about those who brought the aircraft down.
ISIS published photo of soda can bomb
ISIS, which has an affiliate in Sinai, has trumpeted its apparent role in the deadly disaster.
Last month, it published a photo in its online magazine of what it claimed was the bomb that downed the Russian plane.
The photograph shows a soft drink can and two components that appear to be a detonator and a switch, according to an explosives expert.
Egyptian authorities have tightly controlled information concerning the conflict with the ISIS affiliate in Sinai.
The Egyptian lead investigator, Muqaddam, said in a statement Monday that the investigation into the crash was continuing.
Debris from the jet scattered across an area 16 kilometers (about 10 miles) from the main crash site. Computers from the plane were removed from the site and taken to Cairo for examination, according to the statement.
Egyptian investigators were still waiting for Russian reports on the state of the victims’ bodies, it said.
The pilots’ training and medical records and the plane’s condition and maintenance history were among aspects being considered, it said.
European investigators who analyzed the two flight recorders from the Metrojet plane have reportedly said an explosion that wasn’t accidental brought the plane down.
The Russian and British governments both suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh after the crash.
Journalist Sarah Sirgany reported from Cairo, and CNN’s Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong and Tim Hume wrote from London.