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Al-Shabab Claims Responsibility for Somali Plane Bomb

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 militant group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the bomb blast aimed at bringing down a Somali airliner earlier this month.

The group said in a statement Saturday that it carried out the attack as “retribution for the crimes committed by the coalition of Western crusaders and their intelligence agencies against Muslims of Somalia.”

Al-Shabab said the explosion targeted Western and Turkish intelligence officials aboard Daallo Airlines Flight A321 to Djibouti on February 2.

The mid-air blast blew a meter-wide hole in the aircraft, carrying 74 passengers, and forced the pilot to make an emergency landing 15 minutes after take-off from Mogadishu airport.

The suspected suicide bomber, Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, was a passenger and was blown out of the plane.

Security video footage taken at Mogadishu airport showed two men handing what looked like a laptop computer to Borleh after he passed through a security checkpoint.

Authorities believe the laptop-like device was the bomb that caused the explosion.

At least 15 people have been arrested in connection to the attack.

VOA's Somali Service contributed to this report.