Somali authorities confirm suicide bomber blew hole in plane
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 2/08/16, 01:27 pm
A suicide bomber set off the explosion that tore a hole in an airliner flying out of Somalia last week, according to local authorities investigating the case.
The blast blew a 3-foot hole in the fuselage of the Daallo Airlines passenger plane minutes after it took off from Somalia’s Mogadishu airport with more than 70 passengers on Feb. 2.
Though the investigation continues, Somalian Transport Minister Ali Jama Jangali confirmed a bomb caused the explosion.
“The bomb aimed to kill all on board,” Jangali said. “Al-Shabaab was behind it.”
Al-Shabaab has not taken responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic extremist group has terrorized Somalia in recent years. The group was responsible for a restaurant-hotel attack that left 20 dead and 17 injured in January.
The explosion, which caused an emergency landing, left two people injured and one dead. Local authorities believe the dead man, identified as Abdullahi Abdisalam Borle, detonated the bomb. Residents of Balad, a town in Somalia, notified police when they found Borle’s body, which authorities said got sucked out of the plane when he set off the bomb.
The investigation also revealed the bomb was initially meant for a Turkish Airlines flight. Daallo Airlines chief executive officer Mohamed Ibrahim Yasin Olad said the passengers on the Daallo aircraft were supposed to travel to Djibouti on the Turkish Airlines plane. But Daallo agreed to fly them when the Turkish aircraft failed to arrive at the airport.
Somali intelligence officials have arrested six people in connection with the blast after examining security footage from the airport. The Somali government said it would tighten airport security to prevent future attacks.
Daallo Airlines, based in the United Arab Emirates, temporarily suspended its operations at Somalia’s Mogadishu airport following the incident.
The Airbus A321 had barely left the Mogadishu airport when the explosion occurred.
“We lost pressure in the cabin,” 64-year old pilot Vladimir Vodopivec recalled. “Thank God it ended well.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.