13 February 2016

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Claims Responsibility for Airline Blast

The Islamist insurgents have said they were behind a blast that ripped a hole in a Daallo Airlines plane, shortly after takeoff. Investigators believe the intention was to kill everyone on board.

The al-Shabab militant group, which has links to al Qaeda, issued a statement via email on Saturday claiming responsibility for the attack.

"Harakat al-Shabab Al Mujahideen carried out the airborne operation as a retribution for the crimes committed by the coalition of Western crusaders and their intelligence agencies against the Muslims of Somalia," the insurgents said.

The Daallo Airlines plane was en route from Mogadishu to Djibouti earlier this month when it was forced to abort its journey and make an emergency landing at Mogadishu airport.

The suspected bomber, identified as Abdulahi Abdisalam, detonated the explosives some 15 minutes after takeoff, while the plane was flying at a height of 12,000 feet (3.7 kilometers) with 74 passengers onboard.

A similar incident at a higher altitude could cause explosive decompression and severe structural damage while leaving the passengers with less oxygen.

Daallo's chief executive said the bomber was meant to be on a Turkish Airlines flight that was canceled earlier in the day due to bad weather.

Bomb concealed in laptop

The announcement by the Islamist group on Saturday came almost a week after Somali intelligence officials released surveillance footage that appeared to show a passenger being given a laptop concealing the bomb.

Two other men - one of whom was wearing a security jacket - handed the computer to the suspected bomber, the National Intelligence and Security Agency reported.

Al-Shabab, which wants to overthrow the Somali government and impose a harsh version of Islamic law, has targeted the Mogadishu airport in the past. It has also attacked the Turkish embassy in the Somalian capital.

ksb/jlw (Reuters, epd)


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