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Somali Officials: Man Killed in Plane Bombing Given Laptop Before Flight


A gaping hole is visible in the side of a plane operated by Daallo Airlines as it sits on the runway of the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 2, 2016.
A gaping hole is visible in the side of a plane operated by Daallo Airlines as it sits on the runway of the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 2, 2016.

Somali security officials say they have identified a person they believe planned the bomb attack that was intended to bring down a Daallo Airlines flight last week.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior intelligence official told VOA's Somali service the suspect was known to the security agencies and is linked to at least another attack carried out by the al-Shabab militants.

The intelligence official says the person, said to be 40 years old, runs a business that sells mobile phones, eye glasses and clothing, and uses it as a cover for his covert al-Shabab operations. “He is not in jail, he escaped, we have been told that he was last seen in Afgoye town last week,” says the official.

The mid-air blast blew a hole in the aircraft and forced the pilot of Flight 159, bound for Djibouti with 74 passengers on board, to make an emergency landing about 15 minutes after take-off from Mogadishu.

Officials have announced that the man ejected from the plane, Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, was carrying the laptop that contained the bomb.

CCTV cameras released by the Somali government shows Borleh, who was limping, heading for the exit of the departure hall when two men, apparent airport staffers handed him what is believed to be a laptop as they walked past him.

WATCH: Somali government video of men with suspected bomb

Somalia Video of Men with Suspected Bomb
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The airport has three security screens run jointly by African Union troops, Somali security agents, and a Turkish company that runs operations at Mogadishu airport.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh spoke during an extraordinary session of parliament Sunday. Although the president did not go into the specifics of the investigation, he warned government officials against bailing out or helping the release terrorism suspects from government jails.

“As government officials we have to stop going to detentions and seeking the release of who are being suspected. Whether you are a minster, deputy minister, someone from the Palace, the elders, those of us who are being accorded a courtesy after they visit an office, that courtesy should not be exploited in order to get Al-Shabab detainees released.”

The president also defended the security of the airport saying it has the “most up to date security screening” like any other airport in the world. The Somali leader said the government will fully publish the result of the investigation into the Daallo Airlines attack although he did not give a timeline.

Officials said at least 11 people have been detained during the investigation.

A senior Somali security official told VOA the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is helping Somalia with the probe.