Egypt's President Sisi pledges transparent probe into Russian plane crash

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged a transparent probe into the Russian plane crash.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged a transparent probe into the Russian plane crash.PHOTO: REUTERS

CAIRO (AFP) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged a transparent probe into the Russian plane crash and cautioned against hasty conclusions, during a visit on Wednesday (Nov 11) to the airport from where the doomed aircraft took off.

Foreign governments including Britain believe a bomb probably brought down the plane on Oct 31 after it took off from the airport of Egypt's Sinai coastal resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which commands an affiliate in Sinai, claimed it downed the plane, killing all 224 people on board.

Mr Sisi, who has dismissed the claim as "propaganda", said on his surprise visit to Sharm el-Sheikh that only the official probe could determine the cause.

"I wish no one had rushed ahead of the results of the investigation," Sisi said in comments aired on Egyptian television.

"We will deal with this matter with utmost transparency and integrity," he said on his symbolic visit to the airport at the centre of theories that a bomb was planted on the Russian plane.

The President, elected in 2014 less than a year after leading the military overthrow of his predecessor, has pledged to wipe out Islamist militants.

An insurgency in Sinai had bedevilled the country since Islamist president Mohamed Morsi's overthrow, which unleashed a crackdown that killed hundreds of his supporters.

The militants have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, mostly in the Sinai Peninsula.

The plane disaster prompted Russia to halt normal flights to Egypt, and Britain restricted flights to Sharm el-Sheikh.

The travel restrictions will have a devastating affect on tourism, one of the country's key revenue earners.

At Sharm el-Sheikh airport, Mr Sisi promised the government would support the tourism industry.

"The lights in Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada will not go off," he said, referring to another Red Sea resort.