A passenger in a wheelchair may have been a suicide bomber who set off the blast that tore a hole in a jetliner — through which he was sucked out over Somalia, according to a Western diplomat.
Investigators believe the man used the wheelchair to circumvent security measures in Mogadishu before detonating the device, which failed to bring the plane down, the source told the Wall Street Journal.
His flaming body landed near the town of Balad, some 20 miles north of Mogadishu, where it was recovered by authorities.
“An individual got onto the plane in a wheelchair and is suspected of being the suicide bomber,” the diplomat, who is in direct contact with investigators, told the paper.
The explosion jarred passengers and forced the pilot to make a dramatic descent as panic ensued.
Somali authorities have arrested the passenger who had been sitting in the next seat, the diplomat added.
The development comes amid increasing evidence that the explosion on the Daallo Airlines Airbus A321 was a terror attack by al-Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia.
Based on images of the gaping hole, the US Defense Department determined that a bomb likely caused the blast, a senior defense official told the paper.