An explosion that ripped a hole in the side of a Somali passenger plane could have been caused by a bomb, officials said Friday.
“The bomb may have been detonated deliberately by someone on board, who seemingly failed to execute his job or hit his target perfectly,” said a senior intelligence officer familiar with the investigation, who did not want to be named.
The explosion occurred on a Daallo Airlines plane 15 minutes after takeoff from Mogadishu on Tuesday.
The airline said the plane turned back from its route towards Djibouti and landed safely in Mogadishu. “All passengers, except one, disembarked safely,” the statement said, adding that two of the disembarking passengers had suffered minor injuries.
It was thought that the missing passenger was a man whose remains were found near Bal'ad, 30 kilometres north-east of Mogadishu. Witnesses on the plane said they saw one of the passengers fall through the hole created by the explosion.
A cabinet minister who did not want to be named said the body had been identified as belonging to a Somali citizen. But there was no confirmation that it had come from the plane.
“Should the plane have been on a higher altitude, the explosion could have created a disaster,” the intelligence officer said.
No group has claimed the explosion. The Islamist insurgent group al-Shabaab has previously targeted military planes in Somalia, but no passenger planes so far.
Western nationals including Swedes were among the 74 passengers on board the plane, security officials said.
“Foreign security and explosives experts are part of the ongoing probe as suspicion abounds about the cause of the accident,” the minister said.
Senior security officer Mohamed Hassan said the authorities suspected that a bomb had caused the blast.