Somali jet suspect ‘checked in on Turkish Airlines’

Suspect and 73 other passengers meant to board Turkish Airlines flight, which was cancelled, Daallo Airlines chief says.

Somalia plane
The suspected suicide bomber was killed in the incident and two other passengers were injured [AP]

The suspected suicide bomber who blew himself up aboard a Somali airliner on a flight from Mogadishu to Djibouti was meant to board a Turkish Airlines flight, the head of Daallo Airlines told Al Jazeera. 

The explosion ripped a one-metre hole in the side of the Daallo Airlines jet on Tuesday, after which the suspect was reportedly sucked out of the decompressed cabin. 

The 74 passengers aboard the flight were originally checked in with Turkish Airlines, which flies to Somalia three times a week, Mohamed Ibrahim Yassin Olad, Daallo Airlines chief, told Al Jazeera on Sunday.

“They were not our passengers. Turkish Airlines cancelled its flight from Mogadishu that morning because their incoming flight from Djibouti could not come to Mogadishu because of what they said was strong wind,” Olad said.

“They requested we carry the passengers on their behalf to Djibouti where they would continue their journey on a Turkish Airlines flight,” Olad added. 

“Turkish Airlines have not been in contact with us since the incident happened. You can say they are trying to distance themselves from the incident.” Olad said.

Turkish Airlines suspended its flights to Somalia on Tuesday. 

READ MORE: Somalia aircraft damage ‘caused by bomb’

Al Jazeera contacted Turkish Airlines for comment but so far has not received a response.

Olad said Daallo Airlines, Djibouti’s national carrier, was working with the Somali government and security officials at the airport on steps needed to avoid similar incidents in the future.

“We are going to introduce extra security measures. Things will not be the same and security is our priority.” Olad said.

‘Deliberate terror attack’

Speaking at a press conference in Mogadishu on Saturday, Ali Ahmed Jama Jangeli, the Somali minister for air transport, said that the explosion was not the result of a technical failure but a “deliberate terror attack”. 

“After intensive investigation into this incident, it has been revealed … that a crude device caused the explosion. The intent was to harm the passengers on the plane. This was not a technical fault, but a deliberate terror act.” Jangeli said.

Somalia plane blast caused by bomb, says transport minister

“The security authorities have arrested a number of people who are suspected of taking part in this act,” the minister added. 

Jangeli said his government has introduced additional security measures at the airport to strengthen security at the country’s main airport.

 The 74 passengers aboard the flight were originally checked in with Turkish Airlines, officials said [Feisal Omar/Reuters]
 The 74 passengers aboard the flight were originally checked in with Turkish Airlines, officials said [Feisal Omar/Reuters]

Somali state TV aired CCTV footage on Sunday showing what it said were the suspects behind the aircraft blast. The footage showed three men exchanging what appeared to be a laptop at a coffee shop at the airport.

Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, a Somali national, has been named by authorities as the man who was sucked out of Flight 3159. His badly burned body was found some 30km outside the Somali capital.

Somali government spokesman Abdisalam Aato told Al Jazeera on Sunday that more than 20 suspects were in custody in connection with the explosion.

No one has claimed responsibility for the plane blast.

Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa

Source: Al Jazeera