Plane attacks terrorism: Russia

“Both planes were destroyed as the result of terrorist acts,” said security service spokesman Andrei Fetisov.

It is the first time the Russian authorities have blamed both the tragedies last week on extremists, despite confirming traces of explosives were found in the burned-out wreckage of the two planes.

Lt Gen Fetisov said they can now declare with the utmost certainty that both planes were destroyed as the result of terrorist acts.

He also confirmed the explosive Hexogen was found in the remains of the plane flying from Moscow to the southern city of Sochi which blew up at a height of 10,000 metres close to the city of Rostov.

However Mr Fetisov did not identify Hexogen as the explosive used in the second plane, which crashed in the Tula district on a flight from Moscow to Volgograd.

Russian officials have carefully held back from singling out any groups or individuals that could be responsible.

But the press has portrayed two women from the rebellious republic of Chechnya as the likely perpetrators.

Authorities have focused attention on passengers Amnat Nagayeva and Satsita Jebirkhanova as no relatives of either have yet come forward to claim their remains, and they booked their tickets at the last moment.

The two Tupolev planes crashed within minutes of each other in southern Russia, hundreds of kilometres apart, killing all on board.

The crews had reported no problems, and a distress signal sent from one of the planes may have been triggered by the force of the crash.

An obscure Islamist group has claimed responsibility for both planes in a website statement.

The Islambouli Brigades, which has also claimed recent militant attacks in Pakistan, said it will continue operations “until the killings of our Muslim brothers in Chechnya cease”.

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