Putin, al-Sissi call for greater collaboration against terrorism

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The presidents of Russia and Egypt called for greater international efforts against terrorism on Wednesday, a day after Moscow confirmed that a Russian airliner crashed in Egypt because of a terrorist bomb.

Global powers should take “firm and deterrent steps against forces of militancy and terrorism,” Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi agreed in a phone call.

“Establishing security and restoring stability to Middle Eastern countries that are experiencing disputes will effectively help defeat and prevent terrorism in many parts of the world,” al-Sissi’s office said in a statement carried by the official Middle East News Agency.

Egypt, whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism, has yet to acknowledge whether a bomb brought down the airliner last month.

Russia said Tuesday the crash was the result of a terrorist attack. Earlier this month Moscow suspended commercial flights to Egypt, allowing only return flights without luggage in order to get Russian citizens back home.

Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Wednesday that the bomb was most likely placed under a passenger’s seat near a window at the end of the plane.

That scenario would explain why the airliner’s tail section detached from the rest of the plane and a metre-wide hole was formed in that part of the fuselage with signs of an explosion, the newspaper said, citing Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

The newspaper refuted earlier reports that a bomb might have been placed in the airliner’s luggage hold.

On Tuesday, Russian tabloid Life News, which is reputed to have extensive sources in law enforcement, released a video of investigators at the crash site removing a destroyed suitcase that could have held a bomb.

The explosive material acetone peroxide might have been used to make the bomb, as has been done in past attacks by Islamic State terrorists, a former Defence Ministry official told Life News.

An Islamic State affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula claimed responsibility for downing the airliner, saying it was retribution for Russia’s military campaign against the group in Syria.

The airliner was heading from the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh to Russia’s second-largest city, St Petersburg, when it exploded in mid-air about 20 minutes after take-off on October 31.

The crash, which killed all 224 aboard the airliner, was the deadliest civil aviation disaster in Russian history.

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