London: The UK today said a Russian plane that crashed in Sinai may have been brought down by an “explosive device” which has prompted it to temporarily suspend its flight operations from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh holiday resort town.
“While the investigation is still ongoing we cannot say categorically why the Russian jet 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,” the office of Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement.
All flights due to leave the holiday resort for Britain today are affected, to allow UK experts to assess security, the statement said.
“In light of this, and as a precautionary measure, we have decided that flights due to leave Sharm for the UK this evening will be delayed,” it said.
That will allow time for a team of UK aviation experts, currently traveling to Sharm, to make an assessment of the security arrangements in place at the airport and to identify whether any further action is required, it added.
“We expect this assessment to be completed tonight,” she said.
A Russian Airbus 321 crashed on Saturday in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.
Cameron is to chair a meeting of the UK’s Cobra emergency committee on the issue later on Wednesday.
The development comes as an Islamic State (ISIS) affiliated group released a new message claiming responsibility for the crash.
Syria analysts have shared an audio message on social media which is believed to be a message from Wilayat Sinai, an affiliate of ISIS-based in Sinai.
The message, thought to be the voice of a Abu Osama Al-Masri, confirms the claim of responsibility that was made on Saturday, saying “we downed it so die in your rage”.
It says: “We are under no obligation to explain how it came down. Bring the wreckage and search it, bring your black boxes and analyse them, and tell us the results of your investigation.”
“Prove that we didn’t bring it down, and how it came down. We will detail how it came down at the time of our choosing.”