The man who was ejected in-flight from a Somali plane on Feb. 1 after an on-board explosion was reportedly a suicide bomber. The passenger plane operated by Daallo Airlines made an emergency landing after a bomb detonated and blew a hole in the side of the aircraft.
The suspected bomber was the only death on the flight, and two others were injured, reports Gawker.
The alleged bomber reportedly was able to board the plane by arriving in a wheelchair and evading security checkpoints, reports The Wall Street Journal. The bomb carried aboard by the suspect tore through the plane’s fuselage but did not take down the plane.
The force of the explosion reportedly thrust the bomber out of the plane, and his body was found by investigators near the Somali town of Balad.
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A diplomat involved with the investigation of the bombing spoke to The Wall Street Journal in confidence about the incident.
“An individual got onto the plane in a wheelchair and is suspected of being a suicide bomber,” said the Western diplomat.
The diplomat said that the suspected bomber boarded the plane in a wheelchair, and later moved to a non-handicap seat.
Representatives of the U.S. Department of Defense said that a bomb likely caused the on board explosion. Traces of TNT were reportedly found around the explosion area.
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The Somali government adamantly denies the presence of a bomb on the plane. Officials in the Somali Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation hold that a mechanical malfunction caused the explosion, blaming “depressurization”.
C.E.O. and co-founder of Daallo Airlines Mohammed Ibrahim Yassin admitted that some evidence of a bomb was found.
“They’re saying it’s suspicious but not conclusive … it’s not 100% sure,” Yassin said.
Suspicion has fallen on al-Shabaab, an extremist Islamist group that is attempting to unseat the Somali government and has attacked both civilian and government targets in the past. However, the the absence of a claim of responsibility for the attack casts doubt on the group’s responsibility.
Yassin said that though his airline had canceled flights immediately after the on-board explosion, it will continue to operate.