WASHINGTON: It is “highly possible” that the Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt was brought down by a bomb, a US official said Wednesday.
“A bomb is a highly possible scenario,” the official told AFP, four days after the Airbus crashed in the Sinai, killing all 224 people on board.
“It would be something that ISIL would want to do,” he added, using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State group.
But the official cautioned: “I am not saying it’s a definitive statement of what happened.”
The Egypt branch of IS has said it was responsible for downing the plane but provided no details, prompting skepticism about the claim.
If confirmed, it would be the first ever Islamic State bomb attack on a passenger plane.
Britain suspended flights from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh Wednesday, saying it was concerned the airliner may have been downed by a bomb.
US media reported that the latest American intelligence suggested — though it was not yet established — that IS or one of its affiliates downed the plane with a bomb.
One official quoted by CNN said: “There is a definite feeling it was an explosive device planted in luggage or somewhere on the plane.”
The assessment was reached by looking at intelligence gathered before and after the plane crashed while travelling from Egypt to Russia, the official told CNN.
Washington did not have evidence of a specific threat prior to the crash. But prior to the crash “there had been additional activity in Sinai that had caught our attention,” the official said.