Wed, Nov 11, 2015 - Page 1 News List

International teams inspecting security at Cairo airport

LIKELY BOMB:The inspections come after the US said that intercepts showed Russian officials believe Flight 9268 was brought down by a bomb

AP and Reuters, WASHINGTON and CAIRO

Egyptian officials yesterday said European, Russian and Middle Eastern teams are inspecting security measures at Cairo International Airport relating to passenger and cargo aircraft traveling to their countries.

The head of Cairo International Airport, Major General Ahmed Genina says the officials from Russia, the Netherlands, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are examining the scanning of passengers, cargo and baggage as they enter the airport and make their way to aircraft.

Security guards and caterers are also being inspected.

Russian communications intercepted by US intelligence agencies showed Russia believed the plane that crashed in Sinai, Egypt, on Oct. 31 was brought down by a bomb, US sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The intercepts are among pieces of evidence leading US officials to suspect that a device planted on Metrojet Flight 9268 exploded shortly after the Airbus A321 took off from the city of Sharm al-Sheikh, the sources said.

All 224 passengers and crew were killed when the plane crashed in the desert on the way to St Petersburg, Russia.

Egypt and Russia have yet to formally announce the cause of the disaster.

Both countries dismissed as premature US and British assessments last week that a bomb likely was responsible.

Foreign airlines canceled a wave of flights to Egypt’s Red Sea resorts following the crash.

After initially signaling normal air traffic would proceed, Russia late last week suspended passenger flights to Egypt.

Over the weekend, Russia mounted an airlift to repatriate thousands of Russian vacationers who had been stranded in Sinai after regular flights were canceled.

Within days of the crash, US and British government sources were suggesting that intercepted communications chatter indicated that the plane had been brought down by a bomb.

The Islamic State’s local affiliate, which calls itself the Sinai Province of Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the crash, and indicated it was in retaliation for Russia’s military intervention in the Syrian civil war.

The group has been fighting the Egyptian army in the Sinai, most of which is a closed military zone, in a conflict that human rights groups say has claimed thousands of civilian lives.

A US government source on Monday said that neither Russia nor Egypt has accepted an offer from the FBI to assist them in investigating the crash.

The FBI has offered “forensic assistance” and other unspecified services to both Russia and Egypt, FBI spokesman Joshua Campbell said.

Speaking to CNN on Monday, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “It’s more likely than not that it was an explosive device on the aircraft” and “there’s going to be a high probability” that Islamic State was involved.

Only an analysis of the wreckage could determine if a bomb caused the crash, Hammond said.

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