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Sisi admits 'militants downed Russian plane'

The plane crash killed 219 Russians, four Ukrainians, and one Belarusian [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 February, 2016

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For the first time, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has blamed militants for the attack on a Russian plane that killed 224 civilians.
Egypt's president has suggested for the first time that militants were behind the downing of a Russian passenger plane that crashed in Sinai, killing 224 people.

Abdelfattah al-Sisi made the comments during a live broadcast where he addressed national and international threats to the country.

The crash dealt a major blow to Egypt's vital tourism sector, with travel warnings being issued from countries around the world including the UK and Canada.

"Those who downed the aircraft, what did they hope to achieve? Just to hit tourism?" Sisi said. "No, they also wanted to strike at our relations with Russia... and, if they could, with the whole world, so we are left alone and isolated."

Russia pointed towards a possible bomb on board while the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

But until now, Egyptian officials have been careful to speculate, insisting the international investigation into the event should be respected.

IS-linked militants have had an increasing presence in Egypt's Sinai region after the former Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi, was overthrown in 2013.

Read more: For sale - one Egyptian president, slightly used

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