Bomb May Have Downed Russian Plane, Officials Say

CAIRO/MOSCOW (Reuters) -

The cause of a Russian plane crash in Egypt is looking more like an explosion but it is not clear whether it was linked to fuel or engine trouble or a bomb, an Egyptian source close to the investigation said on Wednesday.

“It is believed to be an explosion but what kind is not clear. There is an examination of the sand at the crash site to try and determine if it was a bomb,” the source, who is close to the team investigating the black boxes, told Reuters.

Britain said on Wednesday the airplane may have been brought down by an explosive device. But Prime Minister David Cameron’s office was cautious over the possible causes.

“While the investigation is still ongoing we cannot say categorically why the Russian jet crashed,” it said in a statement.

The Airbus A321M crashed on Saturday shortly after taking off from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on its way to the Russian city of St. Petersburg, killing all 224 people on board.

Islamic State, which controls swathes of Iraq and Syria and is battling the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula, said again on Wednesday it brought down the airplane and that it would eventually tell the world how it carried out the attack.

Egypt dismissed a similar statement by Islamic State on Saturday.

Any evidence that a bomb knocked the plane out of the sky would raise questions over Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s assertions that Egypt had brought under control the insurgency waged by the Islamic State affiliate, Sinai Province.