A somber President Vladimir Putin vowed to hunt down and punish those responsible for a bomb that brought down a Russian passenger jet last month, “wherever they are hiding.” Intensified Russian airstrikes Tuesday hit the Islamic State group’s stronghold in Syria that also is being pounded by the French military.
Russia’s FSB security service confirmed for the first time that a homemade bomb caused the Oct. 31 crash of the Metrojet Airbus 321-200 in Egypt’s Sinai Desert and killed all 224 people aboard in what it called “a terrorist act.” The Islamic state had already claimed responsibility, saying it was punishing Moscow for its air campaign in Syria.
Putin heard the report on the Metrojet bombing at a late-night meeting of his security advisers in the Kremlin that was shown on national television. He and his advisers stood for moment of silence for those who died on the plane, mostly Russian vacationers flying from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg.
“We will not wipe away the tears from our souls and our hearts. This will stay with us forever,” he said.
“We are going to pursue terrorists everywhere. If they are in the airport, we will pursue them in the airport. And if we capture them in the toilet, then we will waste them in the outhouse. … The issue has been resolved once and for all,” he told Russian media.
The FSB offered a $50 million reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible, and Putin said Russia would be relentless in its pursuit.