Daallo Airlines Flight 159

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Daallo Airlines Flight 159
Airbus A321-100 Hermes Airlines (HRM) "Air Méditerranée" SX-BHS - MSN 642 (10297421475).jpg
The aircraft in the livery of one of its previous airlines, Air Méditerranée, 2013
Bombing summary
Date 2 February 2016 (2016-02-02)
Summary Bomb detonated in a suicide bombing.
Site En-route over Somalia
Passengers 74
Crew 7
Injuries (non-fatal) 2
Fatalities 1
Survivors 80
Aircraft type Airbus A321-111
Operator Daallo Airlines
Registration SX-BHS
Flight origin Aden Adde International Airport, Somalia
Destination Djibouti–Ambouli International Airport
A map showing Mogadishu Airport and Balad, Somalia
MGQ
MGQ
Balad
Balad
JIB
JIB
A map showing the locations of Aden Adde International Airport (MGQ), Djibouti–Ambouli International Airport (JIB) and Balad, the location where the burnt body was found.

Daallo Airlines Flight 159 (DAO 159/D3 159) was a scheduled international passenger flight operated by Somali-owned Daallo Airlines. On 2 February 2016, an explosion occurred on board the aircraft 20 minutes after it took off from Mogadishu. The aircraft was able to return to the airport safely, with one fatality reported. A subsequent investigation indicated that the explosion was caused by a bomb,[1][2] detonated in a suicide attack.[3] The Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab later claimed responsibility for the bombing.[4][5][6]

Aircraft

The aircraft involved was a 19-year-old Airbus A321-111, SX-BHS, owned by Hermes Airlines, and operated by Daallo Airlines at the time of the incident. The aircraft was delivered to Daallo Airlines on 5 January 2015. The aircraft had previously been operated by Hermes Airlines, Air Méditerranée, Myanmar Airways International and Swissair. The aircraft's manufacturer serial number is 642 and it first flew on 6 January 1997. The aircraft was delivered to Swissair on 21 January 1997. It is equipped with two CFM International CFM56 engines and has a 220-seat economy-only configuration.[7] In March 2013, it experienced a runway excursion after landing at Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport.[8]

Incident

On 2 February 2016, 20 minutes after taking off from Mogadishu, Somalia,[9] at 11:00 local time, en route to Djibouti City, at an altitude of about 14,000 ft (4,300 m),[10] there was an explosion aboard, opening a hole in the fuselage behind the R2 door.[11][12] It was reported that day that the explosion was most likely close to seats 15/16F, abeam the forward wing root[13] and the fuel tanks.[14] There were 74 passengers and 7 crew on board at the time of the incident.[15]

Reacting to the explosion, flight attendants moved passengers to the rear of the aircraft.[16] The pilots alerted Mogadishu tower, reporting a pressurisation problem, but did not declare an emergency.[17] They then turned the plane around and performed an emergency landing at Mogadishu's Aden Adde International Airport, which was briefly closed as a result.[1] Two injuries were reported, and a burnt body, thought to be that of the suicide bomber, fell from the aircraft, landing in the town of Dhiiqaaley near Balad, Somalia;[18] it was found by nearby residents.[19]

The flight had been delayed before departure, so at the time of the explosion the plane was not yet at cruising altitude and the cabin was not yet fully pressurized. It was thought that a laptop had been rigged with a timer device to explode the bomb mid-flight.[20][21]

According to Mohamed Ibrahim Yassin Olad, the CEO of Daallo Airlines, the suicide bomber and 69 of the 73 other passengers on board[2] were meant to board a Turkish Airlines flight, which was cancelled on the morning of 2 February due to poor weather conditions. This resulted in Daallo Airlines rerouting their passengers to Djibouti, where they would be transferred to a Turkish Airlines flight.[22] The cancellation of the Turkish Airlines flight was confirmed by Yahya Ustun, a spokesman for the company.[2]

Investigation

Somalia's Air Accident Investigation Authority (SAAIA) stated on 3 February that one person was missing from the aircraft once it had returned to Mogadishu and later confirmed that the missing person's body was found near Balad.[15] An investigation into the bombing is underway by the National Intelligence and Security Agency, with the cooperation of airport authorities and local police. Daallo Airlines, in a statement, said that a technical team of Hermes Airlines, the owner of the aircraft, as well as the aircraft's manufacturer, Airbus, are also playing a role in the active investigation.[23] The FBI is also contributing its efforts to the investigation.[24]

Initial tests of the damage on Flight 159 confirmed traces of explosive residue.[1] Unconfirmed speculation has focused on the possibility of a bomb, possibly hidden within a laptop,[25] carried by a person in a wheelchair. The passenger was believed to have been transferred into a regular seat after being brought onto the plane. Two passengers on the plane, including one who was sitting in the next seat, have been arrested on suspicion of being accomplices.[9] On 6 February, Transport Minister Ali Ahmed Jamac confirmed that the explosion was caused by a bomb that "was meant to kill all onboard".[19][26]

Somali authorities identified the deceased passenger as Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, a 55-year-old male from Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland region of Somalia,[27] but did not confirm that he was suspected of being the suicide bomber.[28][29][30] Borleh was a teacher at an Islamic school, and said he was going abroad for health reasons, according to Sheikh Mohamed Abdullahi, a mosque imam in Hargeisa.[31] A Somali federal official stated that Borleh had been monitored by security agents, "but we had never considered him to be dangerous". A senior Somalia immigration official said that Borleh had obtained a Turkish visa to work in Turkey as an adviser for the foreign ministry. A letter was allegedly sent from the Somali Embassy in Ankara to the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu, asking the Turkish Embassy to facilitate a visa for Borleh to be "an adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotions". The Somali Embassy in Ankara denied sending any such letter.[31]

A security camera recording from the airport shows two men, seemingly airport workers,[14] giving a laptop to Borleh.[24][32] US officials have said that investigators believe the bomber had some type of connection to airline or airport personnel.[33]

At least 20 people,[34] including government officials and the two airline employees, have been arrested on suspicion of being linked to the attack.[25][35] The pilot, Vlatko Vodopivec, criticised the lack of security around the aircraft at the airport, describing the facility as "chaotic". In an interview with the Associated Press, Vodopivec explained that "the security is zero. When we park there, some 20 to 30 people come to the tarmac ... No one has a badge or those yellow vests. They enter and leave the plane, and no one knows who is who... They can put anything inside when passengers leave the aircraft."[34]

Mohamed Ibrahim Yassin Olad, the CEO of Daallo Airlines, stated that the airline would keep flying to Somalia, despite the incident. "We have been there for 25 years," he said. "Our efforts to keep Somalia linked to the rest of the world will continue."[2]

On 13 February, eleven days after the incident, the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, in an email statement, claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it was "retribution for the crimes committed by the coalition of Western crusaders and their intelligence agencies against the Muslims of Somalia."[4] Al-Shabaab also said that it targeted Turkish Airlines because it is a NATO state supporting Western operations in Somalia[5] and that they were targeting Western intelligence officials and Turkish NATO soldiers who were on board.[6]

Criminal convictions

On 30 May 2016, a Somali military court found two men guilty of planning the plot and of being members of al-Shabab and sentenced them to life in prison. One of the two men was a former security official at the airport and the other had eluded arrest and was tried in absentia. Eight others were convicted of aiding the plot, but not convicted of being members of al-Shabab, and were given prison sentences ranging from six months to four years.[36]

See also

References

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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Somalia plane bomber was meant to board Turkish flight: airline executive". Reuters. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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External links