Egypt’s Islamic State group affiliate has allegedly reiterated its claim to have downed a Russian passenger plane over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula last week, killing all 224 people on board.
In an audio recording circulated among militant supporters online Wednesday, a speaker said the crash coincided with the anniversary of the group’s pledge of allegiance to the ISIL group. The dates of the crash and the pledge roughly coincide according to the Islamic calendar.
Experts say the militants lack the sophisticated arms needed to shoot down a plane at cruising altitude. The speaker did not say how the militants brought down the jet.
The AP could not independently verify the recording but it resembled previous statements issued by the group. The U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites, picked up the recording and circulated a translation.
Meanwhile, the British government says it increasingly concerned that a Russian jet was brought down by a bomb and is suspending flights to and from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s office says British aviation experts are travelling to the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the flight that Saturday originated from, to assess security before British flights there will be allowed to leave.
No British flights are flying there Wednesday.
Cameron’s office at Downing St. says “we have become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device.”
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said an earlier ISIL claim was “propaganda” aimed at damaging Egypt’s image.
Authorities are making another attempt to evaluate information from the voice recorder of the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt, after damage to the device prevented an earlier try.
Germout Freitag, spokesman for the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation, said the plane’s flight data recorder had been analyzed Tuesday though results had not yet been reported.
He says the plane’s cockpit voice recorder could not be immediately evaluated because of damage to it, but investigators were working on it again Wednesday.
Two Germans are helping with the investigation because the aircraft was manufactured in Germany, while French experts were involved because the plane was designed in France.
A Russian official says families have identified the bodies of 33 victims killed in Saturday’s plane crash over Egypt. Most of the vicitims were holidaymakers from Russia’s St. Petersburg.
Igor Albin, deputy governor of St. Petersburg, said in a televised conference call that as of Wednesday morning families have identified 33 bodies.
Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov said rescue teams in Egypt have expanded the search area to 40 square kilometers (15 square miles).
Story by the Associated Press