Russia’s President Vladimir Putin vowed vengeance after Moscow on Tuesday confirmed that a bomb attack brought down a passenger jet over Egypt last month, killing all 224 people on board.
“It is not the first time that Russia confronts barbarous terrorist crimes,” Putin said in a meeting late Monday with his security chiefs.
“The murder of our people in Sinai is among the bloodiest crimes in terms of victims. We will not wipe away the tears from our soul and hearts. This will stay with us forever but will not stop us finding and punishing the criminals,” he said in comments released Tuesday.
“We will search for them anywhere they might hide. We will find them in any part of the world and punish them,” he said, calling the attack “one of the bloodiest crimes.”
Russia’s security chief, Alexander Bortnikov, told Putin that the passenger jet was brought down over the Sinai Peninsula by a bomb with a force equivalent to one kilo of TNT.
“We can say unequivocally that this was a terrorist attack,” Federal Security Service (FSB) head Bortnikov said. The security agency announced a $50 million (47 million-euro) reward for information leading to capture of those responsible.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for downing the Russian plane in written statements, as well as video and audio messages posted on the internet following the crash.
Egyptian authorities said Tuesday that they detained two employees of the Sharm el-Sheikh airport, from which the flight departed en route to St. Petersburg.
“Seventeen people are being held, two of them are suspected of helping whoever planted the bomb on the plane at Sharm el-Sheikh airport,” an Egyptian security official told Reuters.
In response to the attack, Putin pledged to step up airstrikes in Syria, where Moscow is conducting a bombing campaign it says is targeting the Islamic State and other “terrorist” groups.
“The combat work of our aviation in Syria must not only be continued. It must be intensified so that the criminals understand that vengeance is inevitable,” Putin said.
“There’s no statute of limitations for this, we need to know all of their names,” he said. “We’re going to look for them everywhere wherever they are hiding. We will find them in any place on Earth and punish them.
“In this work, including the search to find and punish the criminals, we are relying on all of our friends,” Putin continued. “We will act in accordance with the UN Charter’s Article 51, which gives each country the right to self-defense. Everyone who tries to aid the criminals should understand that they will be responsible for giving them shelter.”
The Islamic State group has warned Putin that it would also target him “at home,” but did not offer any details to back its claim.
IS has also claimed responsibility for Friday attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and wounded 350 others.