Moscow: The mid-air explosion of a Russian jetliner over the Sinai desert last month that killed all 224 people on board was the result of a terrorist attack, Russia’s chief intelligence officer said Tuesday.

At a meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin, Federal Security Service head Alexander Bortnikov said that traces of explosives found in the plane’s wreckage indicated that an improvised explosive device had been detonated on board.

The statement marked the first time Russian authorities verified the crash was the work of terrorists.

“As a result, the plane broke up in mid-air, explaining the large dispersal of the parts of the plane’s fuselage,” he said, the Interfax news service reported. Debris from the plane was scattered over several miles of Egyptian desert following the explosion and crash.

Putin, meeting with Bortnikov at a session of the National Anti-Terrorist Committee, said that those behind the attack would be found and punished.

 
“We will search for them everywhere, no matter where they are hiding,” he said, according to the news service.

“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,” he added.

Putin also called for new attacks in Syria, where Russia began launching airstrikes in late September.

An affiliate for the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the plane crash in the days following the attack, although the claim could not immediately be verified.

Courtesy Washington Post