CAIRO — Egyptian investigators have so far found no evidence of terrorism in the deadly crash of a Russian passenger jet in Sinai, authorities said Monday, offering a sharply contrasting view from that of Moscow.
Russian security officials have said they believe a bomb brought down Metrojet Flight 9268 in October, and the Islamic extremist group ISIS has claimed it planted an explosive device in a soda can on the plane.
But Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry issued a statement Monday citing lead investigator Ayman Al-Muqaddam as saying that nothing his team has found so far “indicates illegitimate interference or an act of terrorism.”
From day one, Egyptian officials have steadfastly played down terrorism links to the October 31 crash, which killed all 224 people aboard the Airbus A321-200.
That’s despite views expressed by other governments that Flight 9268 was blown out of the air by a bomb.
Russia says homemade bomb downed plane
Russian authorities had initially resisted suggestions that a terrorist act brought down the plane soon after it took off from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
But they reversed that stance last month, declaring that a homemade bomb with the explosive power of one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of TNT had detonated aboard Flight 9268.
The explosives explained why fragments of the plane were scattered over a large area, the head of the Russian Federal Security Service told President Vladimir Putin, according to the Kremlin.
“This is not the first time Russia experiences barbaric terrorist crime, usually without any obvious internal or external causes, the way it was with the explosion at the railway station in Volgograd at the end of 2013.” Putin said at the time.
Russia has offered a $50 million reward for information about those who brought the aircraft down.
ISIS published photo of ‘soda can bomb’
ISIS, which has an affiliate in Sinai, has trumpeted its apparent role in the deadly disaster.
Last month, it published a picture in its online magazine of what it claimed was the bomb that downed the Russian plane.
The photograph shows a soft drink can and two components that appear to be a detonator and a switch, according to an explosives expert.
Egyptian authorities have sought to tightly control information concerning their deadly conflict with the ISIS affiliate in Sinai.
The Egyptian lead investigator, Al-Muqaddam, said Monday that the investigation into the crash is continuing.
European investigators who analyzed the two flight recorders from the Metrojet plane have reportedly said that the plane was brought down by an explosion that wasn’t accidental.
The Russian and British governments both suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh after the crash.