EgyptAir mechanic suspected of planting IS bomb on Russian jet
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EgyptAir mechanic suspected of planting IS bomb on Russian jet

Suspect’s cousin said to be with group in Syria; Egypt ‘losing billions’ in tourist money since October crash killed 224

A Russian investigator walks near wreckage November 1, 2015, a day after a passenger jet bound for St. Petersburg, Russia, crashed in Hassana, Egypt. (AP/Amr Nabil, File)
A Russian investigator walks near wreckage November 1, 2015, a day after a passenger jet bound for St. Petersburg, Russia, crashed in Hassana, Egypt. (AP/Amr Nabil, File)

A mechanic working for EgyptAir is suspected of planting a bomb aboard the Russian passenger jet that crashed shortly after take-off in the Sinai in October 2015, killing all 224 passengers and crew members on board.

Unnamed sources quoted by Reuters said two airport policemen and a baggage handler were also detained and interrogated on suspicion of helping the mechanic put the bomb on board.

The airline denied that any of its employees are suspects; Egypt has not cited terrorism as the cause of the crash of the Russian Metrojet plane.

“After learning that one of its members had a relative that worked at the airport, Islamic State delivered a bomb in a handbag to that person,” one of the sources is quoted by Reuters as saying, adding that the suspect’s cousin joined Islamic State in Syria a year and a half ago.

“He was told to not ask any questions and get the bomb on the plane.”

Another source said: “Two policemen are suspected of playing a role by turning a blind eye to the operation at a security checkpoint. But there is a possibility that they were just not doing their jobs properly.”

In this image released by the Prime Minister's office, Sherif Ismail, right, looks at the remains of a crashed passenger jet in Hassana Egypt, Friday, Oct. 31, 2015. A Russian aircraft carrying 224 people, including 17 children, crashed Saturday in a remote mountainous region in the Sinai Peninsula about 20 minutes after taking off from a Red Sea resort popular with Russian tourists, the Egyptian government said. There were no survivors. (Suliman el-Oteify, Egypt Prime Minister's Office via AP)
In this image released by the Prime Minister’s office, Sherif Ismail, right, looks at the remains of a crashed passenger jet in Hassana Egypt, Friday, Oct. 31, 2015. (Suliman el-Oteify, Egypt Prime Minister’s Office via AP)

Meanwhile, a report in an Egyptian paper Friday quoted a government official as saying the country has lost hundreds of millions of dollars since the Metrtojet crash, which crippled the country’s vital tourism industry.

South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda was quoted by the state-run Al-Ahram daily as saying that hotel occupancy in the resort cities of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada stands at less than 20 percent and that the cities are losing nearly 2 billion Egyptian pounds (more than $250 million) each month.

Illustrative photo of the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh (Shutterstock)
Illustrative photo of the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh (Shutterstock)

Russia suspended all flights to Egypt and Britain halted flights to Sharm el-Sheikh after the Oct. 31 crash.

The Islamic State group claims that it planted a bomb onboard and Moscow has concluded the plane was downed by an explosive. But Egypt claims it is still investigating the cause.

AP contributed to this report.

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