Probe of Somali jet blast points to suicide bomber

- Authorities are investigating the possibility that a passenger who boarded a commercial plane in a wheelchair may have been a suicide bomber responsible for an explosion inside the jet flying over Somalia.

The pilot said he thought the blast was caused by a bomb.

"I think it was a bomb," said the Serbian pilot, Vladimir Vodopivec, who was quoted by Belgrade daily Blic. "Luckily, the flight controls were not damaged so I could return and land at the airport. Something like this has never happened in my flight career. We lost pressure in the cabin. Thank god it ended well," the 64-year-old pilot said.

The bomber is believed to have been sucked out of the plane after the blast.  The body of a man was found on the ground.

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the bomber may have used a wheelchair to bypass security screening in Mogadishu.  Once on the plane he moved to a different seat and set off the blast.

Two people were slightly injured as 74 passengers and crew of the plane were evacuated after the plane made a safe landing, Somali aviation official Ali Mohamoud said.

Daallo Airlines  Flight D3159 was an Airbus A321 being operated by Hermes Airlines, an Athens based company.

United Nations Ambassador Awale Kullane from the Somali Republic was on the flight.  He posted video from inside the plane on his Facebook page.

He says the plane was in the air just for a few minutes when passengers heard a loud noise and the cabin filled with smoke.

The passengers quickly saw that part of the plane was missing.  The plane, on its way to Djibouti, returned to Mogadishu.

Another passenger, Mohamed Ali, told The Associated Press they heard a bang before flames opened a gaping hole in the plane's side.

"I don't know if it was a bomb or an electric shock, but we heard a bang inside the plane," he said.

The incident is under investigation and what caused the blast was unknown.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in - includes Advertiser Stories