Egyptian investigators have so far found no evidence of terrorism in October's deadly crash of a Russian passenger jet in Sinai, authorities said Monday, offering a sharply contrasting view from that of Moscow.
Russian security officials have said they believe a bomb brought down Metrojet Flight 9268, and the Islamic extremist group ISIS has claimed it planted an explosive device in a soda can on the plane. But Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry issued a statement Monday citing lead investigator Ayman Al-Muqaddam as saying his team has found nothing so far that "indicates illegitimate interference or an act of terrorism."
From the beginning, Egyptian officials have steadfastly played down terrorism links to the October 31 crash that killed all 224 people aboard the Airbus A321-200. That's despite views expressed by other governments that a bomb blew Flight 9268 out of the air.
The Kremlin declined to comment on the Egyptian report.
"I can recall the conclusion of our experts from the relevant agencies who arrived to the conclusion that it was a terrorist attack," Russian state news agency Tass quoted President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, as saying.
Russian authorities had initially resisted suggestions a terrorist act brought down the plane soon after it took off from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
But they reversed that stance last month, declaring a homemade bomb with the explosive power of 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of TNT had detonated aboard Flight 9268.
The explosives explained why fragments of the plane were scattered over a large area, the head of the Russian Federal Security Service told Putin, according to the Kremlin.
"This is not the first time Russia experiences barbaric terrorist crime, usually without any obvious internal or external causes, the way it was with the explosion at the railway station in Volgograd at the end of 2013," Putin said at the time.
Russia has offered a $50 million reward for information about those who brought the aircraft down.
ISIS, which has an affiliate in Sinai, has trumpeted its apparent role in the deadly disaster.
Last month, it published a photo in its online magazine of what it claimed was the bomb that downed the Russian plane. The photograph shows a soft drink can and two components that appear to be a detonator and a switch, according to an explosives expert.
Egyptian authorities have tightly controlled information concerning the conflict with the ISIS affiliate in Sinai. The Egyptian lead investigator, Muqaddam, said Monday the investigation into the crash is continuing. European investigators who analyzed the two flight recorders from the Metrojet plane have reportedly said an explosion that wasn't accidental brought the plane down. The Russian and British governments both suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh after the crash.