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Russia Restricts Flights to Egypt as Evidence of Terrorism Mounts

With more world leaders considering the theory that an explosive device may have brought down a Metrojet flight from Sharm el-Sheikh, countries and airlines are restricting their operations into the Sinai Peninsula and Egypt. In the aftermath of Kogalymavia (7K) Flight 9268, both Russia and the United Kingdom are stopping flights to the North African nation due to security concerns.

The New York Times reports Russian president Vladmir Putin has suspended all outbound flights into Egypt due to the security concerns. British aviation officials have issued a similar edict, restricting flights departing from or arriving to Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport (SSH). As a result, The Telegraph reports several British flights have been turned around while inbound to the Egyptian airport. BBC News estimates as many as 19,000 Britons could be stranded in the resort town on the Red Sea.

The moves come as evidence pointing to a terrorist attack continues to build, while world leaders continue to speak out about the incident. Citing a source close to the investigation, French television station France 2 claims the sound of an explosion was heard on the cockpit voice recorder. Their anonymous source claims the noise was not consistent with the failure of an engine, or the separation of the aircraft tail.

Speaking to Seattle radio station KIRO, President Barack Obama acknowledged the theory 7K9268 could be a terrorist attack, while questioning airport security protocol in Egypt.

“We know that the procedures we have here in the United States are different than some of the procedures that existed for outbound and inbound flights there,” Obama told KIRO, according to CBS News. “We’re going to spend a lot of time making sure that our own investigators and our own intelligence community figures out what’s going on before we make any definitive pronouncements.”

In addition, British flyers told The Telegraph they were able to bypass airport security altogether at SSH by bribing the guards. One flyer who had departed SSH earlier this year claims while at the airport he was approached by a man in a military uniform who offered to let them bypass security for a £20 note (approximately $30).

While all theories are suggesting a bomb explosion in the cargo hold of 7K9268, Egyptian officials are reminding the public that the investigation has not yet been completed. Speaking to CNN, Egyptian civil aviation minister Hossam Kamel claimed it was too early to definitively call the incident a terrorist attack.

“Regarding the hypothesis of having brought down the plane through an internal explosion, the investigation committee has not found any evidence or data that would confirm this hypothesis,” Kamel told CNN.

All 224 people aboard 7K9268 were killed after the aircraft crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, October 31. The investigation is ongoing, with no official cause determined.

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