(Moscow) – The death of 224 passengers on a downed Russian jet was an abhorrent act of mass killing. Russian authorities confirmed on November 17, 2015, that the October 31 crash of a Russian jet over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board, was the result of a bomb placed on board. The crash was the worst in the history of Russian civilian aviation.

The extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) claimed responsibility for the crash.

People place photos of victims of a Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt, killing all 224 passengers, during a commemoration meeting at Dvortsovaya Square in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 1, 2015. 

© 2015 Reuters

“This was a monstrous crime against all common values of humanity,” said Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director at Human Rights Watch. “Our hearts go out to the victim’s families and loved ones.”

The Airbus A321, operated by the Russian airline Metrojet (“Kogalymavia”), was heading for St. Petersburg from Sharm el-Sheikh Airport but broke up in midair over the Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Most of those killed, including 17 children, were Russian nationals returning home from holidays in Egypt. The Russian government declared a day after the crash a national day of mourning.

The chief of the Federal Security Service, Alexander Bortnikov, reported to President Vladimir Putin that the investigation into the causes of the Airbus A321 crash found “traces of foreign explosives” on debris from the plane. He said an improvised bomb, containing the equivalent of up to 1 kilogram of TNT, had apparently been planted on the aircraft.

Putin vowed to look for those responsible “everywhere, wherever they are hiding” and said that Russia should intensify air strikes in Syria, “so that the criminals understand that retribution is inevitable.”

“It is important that when Russian forces respond, they do so with a strong commitment to human rights and international humanitarian law, to protect civilians from harm,” Lokshina said.