A suicide bomber strapped into a wheelchair may have been behind the mid-flight explosion on board a Somalian plane, a Western diplomat said. Investigators believe the explosive-loaded man’s wheelchair allowed him to skirt around airport security and get onto the passenger jet with the bomb, a source told the Wall Street Journal.
The blast — which went off just minutes after the flight took off from Mogadishu’s airport on Tuesday — blew a hole in the cabin and ejected the alleged bomber, sending him plummeting to the ground below. Investigators believe the Al-Shabaab militant group is behind the attack, an American source told Reuters.
Somalia’s investigators have insisted that there are no signs of criminal activity but two U.S. government sources said on Wednesday that initial forensic testing detected possible traces of the explosive TNT on the aircraft. More tests are underway. Al-Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-linked militant group behind numerous terror attacks in Eastern Africa, has not claimed responsibility for the explosion.
Passenger Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh was killed by the blast on the Daallo Airlines plane, carrier officials said. Somalian officials have not named him a suspect in the explosion. Local authorities north of Mogadishu said the body of a man — believed to have been sucked out through the hole in the fuselage made by the blast — was found in their area.