UK refutes Daily Mail's report that British plane came under fire over Egypt’s Sinai

Ahram Online , Sunday 8 Nov 2015

On Friday, the Daily Mail reported that a British plane carrying 189 passengers came "within 1,000 feet" of a rocket over Egypt's Sharm El-Sheikh

File photo: British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in February 9, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

UK's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond described on Sunday the Daily Mail's allegations that a British passenger plane "had been seconds" from being struck by an Egyptian rocket last August as a "red herring."

On Friday, the Daily Mail reported that a British plane carrying 189 passengers came “within 1,000 feet” of a rocket over Egypt's Sharm El-Sheikh before the flight "took evasive action after the pilot spotted the missile speeding through the air."

Hammond, in a BBC interview, said the UK carried out an investigation into the incident and that all passengers were safe and he was "satisfied" with the outcome of the inquiry.

Egypt described the Daily Mail's report as "preposterous allegations."

"The incident involved a ground-to-ground fire exercise at a military base a few kilometers from Sharm El-Sheikh Airport,” and there was “no ground-to-air firing involved whatsoever," Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said on his Twitter account on Saturday.

The UK newspaper's allegations come in the aftermath of the crash of a Russian passenger plane, which crashed shortly after leaving Sharm El-Sheikh Airport last week.

The airliner crashed in central Sinai, around 23 minutes after taking off. All 224 people on board were killed.

Hammond said that if the cause of the Russian plane's crash turned out to be a bomb planted by "an ISIL operative" then the UK has to "look again at the level of security expected to be seen in areas where ISIL is active."

He said that there are people in the UK itself who would "love to smuggle an explosive device onto planes, if possible," but that the security procedures at UK airports have prevented such an occurrence.

At a press conference on Saturday evening, the Egyptian head of a multinational committee tasked with investigating the cause of the crash said it is still too soon to determine what caused the incident.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, a terrorist group operating in Egypt's North Sinai, said they were behind the crash, but Egypt has dismissed the claim.

The Egyptian army has been waging a major offensive against the group over the past year, as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against security personnel in Sinai.

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