DELAYS: Russian tourists depart from Sharm el-Sheikh airport in Egypt, while (INSET) people in St Petersburg pay tribute to the 224 people who died on the Russian plane that crashed last weekend.
DELAYS: Russian tourists depart from Sharm el-Sheikh airport in Egypt, while (INSET) people in St Petersburg pay tribute to the 224 people who died on the Russian plane that crashed last weekend. KHALED ELFIQIEPA And Ivan Sekretarevap

UK, Russia clash over plane crash

BRITAIN has become embroiled in a deepening diplomatic clash with Russia after the Kremlin accused Downing Street of a "shocking" failure to share intelligence that indicates the Russian plane crash over Sinai was caused by an Islamic State bomb.

Prime Minister David Cameron defended his decision to suspend flights to the UK from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh amid terrorism fears, telling President Vladimir Putin Britain had acted to protect its citizens.

Russian and Egyptian investigations into the cause of the crash are yet to reach a conclusion, but had been pointing toward technical failure.

IS Egypt had claimed responsibility for the attack in response to Russia's support for the Syrian regime, but the claims had until now been dismissed.

But on Wednesday Mr Cameron said it was "more likely than not" that a bomb had downed the plane.

If, as both UK and US intelligence now strongly suspect, an IS bomb did cause the A321 Airbus to crash, killing 224 people, it would be extremely damaging for President Putin, who recently committed Russian forces to combat operations against IS in Syria.

It would also mark a dramatic shift in the jihadist group's strategy.

Thousands of British tourists stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh were told they would be able to fly home yesterday - but with only their hand luggage, because investigations into security at the airport centred on baggage handlers.

UK security experts, including six military logistics experts, have assessed security at Sharm el-Sheikh.

Downing Street did not rule out background checks on baggage handlers.

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told reporters that Britain's failure to hand over their intelligence to others was "shocking".

"It is genuinely shocking to think that the British Government has some kind of information that could cast light on what happened in the skies above Egypt," Ms Zakharova said.

"If such information exists, and judging by what the Foreign Secretary has said it does, no one has passed it to the Russian side."

The Prime Minister's spokeswoman would not confirm whether Mr Cameron had shared the intelligence with Mr Putin during their 10-minute phone call on Friday, saying Downing Street could not comment on intelligence matters.



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