UK spies have uncovered evidence that the Russian Metrojet flight that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula last week was brought down by a bomb in the plane’s cargo hold, Sky News and BBC report. Although Russia continues to downplay reports that the tragedy that killed all 224 people on board was a result of an attack, president Vladimir Putin halted Russian flights to Egypt on Friday (Nov. 6).
The UK is slowly evacuating its nationals after it suspended all UK-bound flights from the Sharm el-Sheikh resort, where 19,000 UK vacationers are stranded. The small number of flights that have been permitted to to the UK and other European countries are banning checked-in luggage.
British intelligence reportedly discovered the plot in intercepted messages between ISIL militants.
On Wednesday (Nov. 4), UK authorities said new evidence suggested a bomb, and sent security experts to evaluate the risks. Several hours later US intelligence sources repeated the terrorism suspicions, and in the following day president Obama himself said there was a “possibility,” there was a bomb on the plane and that the US was taking the reports “very seriously.” Egypt and Russia dismiss the claims.
An ISIL affiliate has claimed responsibility for the attack, and if confirmed, it would be a worrying shift in strategy for the militant group.