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Islamic State says it killed 2 captives and used bomb to down Russian jet

Islamic State says it killed 2 captives and used bomb to down Russian jet
Undated photos taken from Islamic State's online magazine purport to show hostages Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad and Fan Jinghui. (Associated Press)

Islamic State militants boasted of their latest atrocities Wednesday by posting a photo of the crude bomb they said brought down a Russian airliner last month and announcing that they had executed two foreign captives, one Chinese and a Norwegian.

The revelations were made in the extremist group's online English-language magazine, Dabiq, in which it described the Oct. 31 destruction of the Russian passenger jet and all 224 people on board as retribution for Moscow's recent airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Syria.

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Dabiq showed what appeared to be a Schweppes pineapple soda can, a detonator and a switch that it said was the "IED [improvised explosive device] used in downing the Russian plane."

The article said the bomb was planted on the Russian Metrojet Airbus A321 with the exploitation of a "loophole" in security at Egypt's Sharm el Sheik Airport on the Red Sea, a popular winter destination for Russian tourists.

Islamic State initially intended to target a passenger jet from a Western country, Dabiq said, but Moscow's participation in the multinational anti-terrorism campaign had prompted the militants to target the Russian charter instead.

"The divided crusaders of the East and West thought themselves safe in their jets as they cowardly bombarded the Muslims of the Caliphate," Dabiq said. "So revenge was exacted upon those who felt safe in the cockpits."

U.S.-led airstrikes have been unleashed against Islamic State positions in their self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq for more than a year, but Russia joined the anti-militant operation only two months ago.

An undated picture, taken from the November 2015 issue of the Islamic State online English-language magazine Dabiq, shows what the magazine said was the material used to make the explosive that brought down a Russian airliner.
An undated picture, taken from the November 2015 issue of the Islamic State online English-language magazine Dabiq, shows what the magazine said was the material used to make the explosive that brought down a Russian airliner. (AFP/Getty Images)

Moscow has said its deployment of aircraft, naval forces and more than 2,000 troops was aimed at Islamic State and other militias considered the perpetrators of terrorism. But some of the Russian attacks have been against other Syrian rebel forces fighting to oust President Bashar Assad, the Kremlin's closest ally in the Middle East.

"A bomb was smuggled onto the airplane, leading to the deaths of 219 Russians and 5 other crusaders only a month after Russia's thoughtless decision," the Dabiq post said.

A photo of twisted engine wreckage said to be debris from the crash also was shown, along with the picture pages of several passports that the magazine said had been collected by Islamic State militants from the bodies of Russian victims.

The magazine also published an editorial titled "Just Terror," celebrating the Friday terrorist attacks in Paris as part of Islamic State's "revenge" against its enemies.

In a separate announcement, the magazine showed what appeared to be two bodies under the headline "The Fate of the Two Prisoners." It said the Norwegian and Chinese hostages had been "executed after being abandoned by kafir nations and organizations." "Kafir" means "infidel" in the Arabic language.

The men were previously identified as Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad, 48, of Oslo, who had been abducted in January, and Fan Jinghui, 50, a freelance consultant from Beijing.

A previous issue of Dabiq had solicited ransom for the two men.

At a news conference in Oslo, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said the government had no independent confirmation of Grimsgaard-Ofstad's execution but had no grounds to doubt the Dabiq report. She called the slaughter of her countryman "a despicable and barbaric act."

The Chinese government made no immediate comment about the report, which was removed from Chinese media.

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After Fan's capture was reported by Islamic State in September, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news briefing that Beijing had "launched an emergency response immediately after we were informed of the situation," and that China is firmly opposed to violence against innocent civilians.

During the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila, Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country condemned the killing of a Chinese citizen by Islamic State and opposed all forms of terrorism.

"Condolences to the victim's family members," Xi said. "Terrorism is the enemy of humanity."

Special correspondent Hassan reported from Cairo and Times staff writer Williams from Los Angeles. Staff writer Julie Makinen in Beijing contributed to this report.

Twitter: @cjwilliamslat

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