Russian investigators walks near wreckage a day after a passenger jet bound for St. Petersburg, Russia, crashed in Wadi el-Zolmat, a mountainous area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on November 1, 2015. The Russian plane was flying to St Petersburg carrying 224 passengers, mainly Russian tourists returning from holidays in the popular Red Sea resort, crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone on board, as rescue workers widened their search for missing victims. Photo by Karem Ahmed/ UPI | License Photo
MOSCOW, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Egyptian authorities were questioning two Sharm el-Sheikh airport employees Tuesday in connection to the downing of a Russian passenger jet, hours after officials definitively confirmed a terrorist bomb brought down the aircraft.
Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service, said the aircraft was equipped with a handmade explosive with the equivalent of 2.2 pounds, of TNT. Explosive residue was found on the victims' personal items and pieces of the aircraft.
"We can say unequivocally that this was a terrorist attack," Bortnikov told Russia's Security Council on Monday.
All 224 people on board Metrojet Flight 9268 died when it crashed in the Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 31.
The Metrojet Airbus A-321 had taken off from Sharm el-Sheikh and was in the air for 22 minutes before disappearing from radar screens. Bortnikov said the bomb was so powerful it caused the aircraft to break up in mid-air, "which explains why the fuselage of the plane was found a great distance away," he said.
Officials initially denied claims the plane was brought down by terrorism, but Tuesday announced a $50 million reward for information about who was responsible for the crash.
A branch of the Islamic State operating on the Sinai Peninsula posted messages to social media immediately after the crash, claiming to have shot down the jet. Both Russian and Egyptian officials said at the time they didn't believe those claims to be credible since the plane wasn't shot down.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said, "we will find them anywhere on the globe, and punish them."
"We won't be wiping tears from our souls and hearts. It will stay with us forever. But that won't stop us from finding and punishing the criminals," he said.
The bombing came weeks after Russia launched an airstrike campaign in Syria, targeting both rebels in opposition to President Bashar al-Assad and IS militants. It's unclear if Russia's involvement in the war there is connected to the crash of Flight 9268.