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US officials: 'IS' boasted about Sinai plane

An American TV station has said 'IS' terrorists have been recorded bragging about the recent downing of a Russian jet. The news comes amid tightening flight security near Egypt's Sinai region.

US broadcaster NBC reported on Friday that communications between "Islamic State" (IS) leaders in Raqqa, Syria, and their affiliates in the Sinai Peninsula included boasts about having downed a Russian passenger jet. Citing unnamed US officials, NBC said they were told that the "chatter" included details of how the plane went down.

"They were clearly celebrating," one official told NBC Nightly News.

Separately, CNN showed a video released by IS that purports to show leaders in Aleppo congratulating their cohorts in Sinai on the tragedy.

New security measures

Official investigations have yet to confirm the cause of the crash, but several countries have been canceling flights from Egypt's restive Sinai region, introducing new precautions, or issuing warnings to its citizens about traveling to the region known to some for its beachside resorts.

The US Department of Homeland Security announced Friday that it would

boost security on flights entering the country from the Middle East

in response to the downing of the Metrojet flight, including increasing scrutiny of items being brought onboard aircraft.

After initially rebuking Western governments for alleging terrorist involvement before knowing the facts, Russian President Vladmir Putin

suspended Russian flights to Egypt,

suggesting that he too is considering that the cause of the disaster was deliberate.

French TV station France 2 wrote on its website that the sound of an explosion could be heard on the plane's black boxes, and that investigators had ruled out engine failure.

The Metrojet flight from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg went down on Saturday, killing all 224 people aboard - the majority of them Russian vacationers. Sinai has been the scene of an Islamist insurgency in Egypt for nearly two years, leaving scores of people dead, including Egyptian soldiers and police officers.

es/sms (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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