Prime Minister David Cameron said it was increasingly likely a bomb brought down a Russian airliner over Egypt with the loss of 224 lives, and U.S. President Barack Obama said Washington was taking that possibility “very seriously”.
But Moscow, which launched air strikes against Islamist fighters including Islamic State in Syria more than a month ago, said it was premature to reach conclusions that the flight was attacked.
In a telephone call, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Cameron it was important that assessments of the cause of the crash last Saturday be based on information from the official investigation, a report said.
Egypt, which depends on tourism as a crucial source of revenue, said there was no evidence a bomb was to blame.
A Sinai-based group affiliated with Islamic State, the militant group that has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, has claimed responsibility for the crash, which if confirmed would make it the first attack on civil aviation by the world’s most violent jihadist organisation.
Cameron, who hosted Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday for a previously scheduled visit, said: “We cannot be certain that the Russian airliner was brought down by a terrorist bomb, but it looks increasingly likely that that was the case”.
His foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said it was “a significant possibility” that Islamic State was responsible, given a range of information, including the claim of responsibility.
In the same vein, In his first public comments on the disaster, Obama said that “There’s a possibility that there was a bomb on board and we’re taking that very seriously”.
“We are going to spend a lot of time just making sure our own investigators and own intelligence communities find out what is going on before we make any definitive pronouncements.
‘’ But it is certainly possible that there was a bomb on board,” Obama told newsmen.
Britain, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands have suspended flights to and from Sharm al-Sheikh, leaving thousands of European tourists stranded in the Red Sea resort where the plane took off.
A spokesperson for Cameron said that flights from the resort destination to Britain would resume on Friday, adding that officials were working with airlines and Egyptian authorities to put in place additional security and screening measures at the airport to allow Britons to get home.
Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities said that the decision to suspend flights was unjustified and should be reversed immediately.
Egypt’s civil aviation minister, Hossam Kamal, told newsmen that investigators had no evidence so far to support the explosion theory.
Similarly, Russian aviation agency Rosaviatsia , said investigators would examine whether there was any explosive material on the plane.