MOSCOW—A homemade explosive device brought down a Russian passenger plane over Egypt last month, the head of Russia’s FSB security service said today, telling President Vladimir Putin it’s now clear the crash that killed 224 people was a “terrorist” act and offering a $50 million reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.
The Islamic State group already had claimed responsibility for the attack, and Putin vowed to hunt down those who carried it out.
Russian war planes struck Raqqa, the self-declared IS capital in Syria, and other targets today, the defence minister told Putin at a briefing later in the day.
The FSB appealed to the “Russian and international communities for co-operation in identifying the terrorists.”
It specified that the reward would be paid in dollars.
“According to our experts, a homemade explosive device equivalent to one kilogram of TNT went off onboard, which caused the plane to break up in the air, which explains why the fuselage was scattered over such a large territory,” said FSB head Alexander Bortnikov.
“I can certainly say that this was a terrorist act,” he added.
Bortnikov said tests showed the explosives had been produced outside of Russia, but gave no further details.
All of the people on board, most of them Russian tourists, were killed when the Metrojet Airbus 321-200 crashed over the Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 31, about 23 minutes after taking off from the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The plane was headed to St. Petersburg, where most of the passengers were from.
Egyptian authorities opened an investigation into a possible security breach or infiltration by militants of the airport staff soon after the crash, security officials said.
The investigation has been focused on baggage handlers, their security overseers, and also personnel involved in aircraft catering, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.