Russian Plane Had Bomb in Hold, Say U.K. Investigators

A bomb was put in the hold of the Russian airliner that crashed last Saturday over the Sinai Peninsula killing everyone on board, U.K. investigators now believe.

The U.K. government says it has received new intelligence based on intercepted communications between militants in the Sinai Peninsula, according to the BBC. Investigators suspect that someone with access to the plane's baggage compartment managed to place an explosive device inside or on top of the luggage just before it took off.

The Russian Metrojet Airbus A321 was flying from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg when it came down in Sinai last weekend, killing all 224 people on board. Most of the victims were Russian.

Sinai-based militant extremists linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) group said they destroyed the plane, although have not said how.

U.S. officials have said intelligence suggests that ISIS or another terrorist group may have had "an assist from someone at the airport," according to the Daily Telegraph.

Britain announced on Wednesday that all flights to and from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh had been suspended, as the government prepares to fly home thousands of British tourists who are now stranded in the popular resort. About 25 flights will take off from the Egyptian beach resort on Friday, clearing a backlog of up to 4,000 holidaymakers, reports the Guardian newspaper. Passengers have been told they cannot put any luggage in the hold of their aircraft, due to the new intelligence.

A number of countries have now joined Britain in restricting flights to the popular resort, including France and Ireland, but Russian airlines are still flying to and from the resort and the Kremlin has said it is too early to draw conclusions about the crash. Egypt has described the U.K.'s decision to suspend all flights as "premature."

"Theories about what happened and the causes of the incident can only be pronounced by the [official] investigation," Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said.

The United States is "very seriously" considering the possibility that the Russian plane that crashed last weekend was brought down by a bomb, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday evening.