Daallo Airlines: Man sucked out of Somali plane suspected to be a suicide bomber

By @chelean on
An aircraft belonging to Daallo Airlines is parked at the Aden Abdulle international airport
An aircraft belonging to Daallo Airlines is parked at the Aden Abdulle international airport after making an emergency landing following a bomb explosion inside the plane in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, February 3, 2016. A man was killed in an explosion on an Airbus A321 that made a hole in the fuselage and forced the plane to return to the Somali capital of Mogadishu to make an emergency landing, officials said on Wednesday. Reuters/Feisal Omar

The man who was sucked out of a Somali plane was reportedly a suicide bomber. Authorities suspect that the passenger boarded the Daallo Airlines plane from Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in a wheelchair, which was probably how he bypassed the airport’s “rigorous security screening.”

According to Wall Street Journal, investigators believe the man planned but failed to bring down the Airbus A321 with a bomb. He was able to detonate the bomb and rip a hole in the fuselage, but the damage wasn’t near to what he apparently envisioned.

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Instead of the plane going down, the man himself was ejected from the cabin. He was sucked out of the plane and fell to the nearby town of Balcad. The pilot of the plane was forced to make an emergency landing, bringing all other passengers and crew to safety. Two passengers were taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

“An individual got onto the plane in a wheelchair and is suspected of being the suicide bomber,” a diplomate in direct contact with the investigators told WSJ.

Somali authorities have arrested the person sitting next to the wheelchair-bound passenger.

Former US government terrorism investigator Scott Stewart told the paper the location of the blast is consistent with a bomb on a passenger’s lap. If the bomb detonated slightly later, it would have taken the plane down. As it happened, it exploded before the plane got up to a higher altitude.

Somali extremist group Al Shabaab is believed to be behind the attack, though there has been no comment from the group so far.

While the pilot, Captain Vlatko Vodopivec, said he was told the explosion was caused by a bomb, Somali officials blame the explosion on plane malfunction. The director general of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation blamed the incident on depressurisation, denying there was clue found indicating presence of an explosive.

The Daallo Airlines flight took off from an airport in Mogadishu on Tuesday and was headed to Djibouti when a blast was heard in the plane a few minutes into the flight. Investigation is ongoing.