by Donald Wood
Last updated: 9:35 AM ET, Tue November 17, 2015
PHOTO: Flowers,candles and toys left at Suvorov square in Moscow, mourning the the victims of Metrojet flight 9268, which crashed on the way from Sharm El-Sheikh to St. Petersburg. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
Russian Officials confirmed Tuesday morning that they believe the MetroJet airplane that crashed in Egypt last month was the result of a terrorist attack.
According to Andrew Roth of the Washington Post, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Federal Security Service head Alexander Bortnikov confirmed that evidence suggests an "improvised explosive device" had been smuggled onboard and detonated midflight.
The explosion and crash on Oct. 31 killed all 224 people on board.
Russian authorities were hesitant to confirm this as a terrorist attack, but traces of explosive residue found at the site suggests that a bomb was likely responsible for the plane's breakup and crash. Bortnikov said in a statement, "We can say conclusively that this was a terrorist act."
In Egypt, the Washington Post reports authorities have arrested two employees from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport in connection with the terrorist attacks, but RT.com claims that report may not be 100 percent accurate. An unnamed official told Roth, "Seventeen people are being held, two of them are suspected of helping whoever planted the bomb on the plane at Sharm el-Sheikh airport."
After confirming this was a terrorist attack, Putin addressed a briefing of Russia's National Anti-Terrorist Committee and spoke very strongly about the country's response. Not only has the government offered a $50 million bounty for information about those behind the attack, but Russia also said it would invoke its right to self-defense under the United Nations charter, according to Roth.
Putin said in a statement, "We will search for them everywhere, no matter where they are hiding. We will find them at any point on the planet and punish them. Anyone who tries to supply help to the criminals should know that the consequences for trying to harbor them will lie squarely on their shoulders."
As for who is responsible for the attack, the Islamic State said they took down the plane, but has provided no additional information to support the claims. The Russian government didn't name ISIS specifically during the announcement, but the country has already stepped up airstrikes in Syria.
Russia has also suspended all flights to and from Egypt for at least the next few months.
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