Putin Says Sinai Plane Crash Was Caused by Terror Attack

Islamic State Fight as Common Cause for U.S., Russia
  • Explosive traces found in Egypt plane wreckage, FSB chief says
  • Islamic State claimed it blew up aircraft, killing 224

President Vladimir Putin blamed terrorists for the air crash in Egypt that killed 224 people and vowed to step up military strikes in Syria to punish those who carried out “one of the bloodiest crimes” against Russians.

“Not for the first time, Russia is confronted with barbaric terrorist crimes,” Putin said in comments broadcast Tuesday from a Nov. 16 meeting with defense and security chiefs. “We won’t wipe the tears from our souls and hearts. This will remain with us forever. But it won’t stop us from finding and punishing the perpetrators.”

Putin’s confirmation of a terrorist attack follows U.K. and U.S. warnings that a bomb may have downed the Russian aircraft after it left the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Oct. 31 bound for St. Petersburg. An Islamic State affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula has claimed it blew up the plane in retaliation for Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria against the organization and other militants fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Traces of foreign-made explosives were discovered in the wreckage of the plane and on the possessions of people killed in the crash, Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, told Putin at the meeting. Investigators calculated that a bomb containing 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of explosive blew up the plane, he said.

Russia must know the names of all those involved in the crime, Putin said. “We will hunt them everywhere, wherever they’re hiding. We’ll find them anywhere in the world and we’ll punish them.”

Punishment ‘Inescapable’

Russian air strikes in Syria must continue and be increased “so these criminals understand that retribution is inescapable,” Putin told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the meeting.

Russia also “counts on all of our friends” to help in hunting down those responsible. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov should “turn to all our partners” for assistance, he said.

French President Francois Hollande will travel to Moscow and Washington D.C. next week to try to build up a coalition against Islamic State following Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people, France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday. French jets over Syria on Monday night carried out “new air strikes in Raqqa to destroy headquarters and an IS fighters’ camp and we will keep this up,” Valls said on France Inter radio.

The FSB is offering a $50 million reward for information leading to the capture of those responsible for downing the aircraft in Egypt, Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti reported, citing the security service’s press office.

Putin has ordered the security services to track down everyone involved in the attack “and to destroy these people,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. The president will attend a meeting at the Defense Ministry later today, he said.

Russian aviation watchdog Rosaviatsia may halt flights to certain countries for security reasons, RIA Novosti reported, citing Franz Klintsevich, a member of the upper house of parliament.

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