A Russian airliner has crashed in central Sinai with more than 200 people on board, speculation about militant involvement in the incident is rife.

The Airbus A-321 had just left the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, bound for the Russian city of St Petersburg. Wreckage of the aircraft has been found in the Hassana area. It disappeared from radar screens when travelling at 9,500m (31,000ft), Egyptian officials said.

The Airbus A321 is a short to medium range, narrow-body, commercial passenger twin-engine airliner manufactured by Airbus.

A statement from Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation said search and rescue teams found the wreckage of the Russian passenger jet in the Hassana area where Egyptian security forces are fighting a burgeoning Islamic militant insurgency.

The aircraft was operated by the small Russian airline Kogalymavia, based in western Siberia. Russian authorities say it was carrying 217 passengers, 17 of them children, and seven crew. Most were Russian tourists.

Northern Sinai is home to groups of Islamist militants, many affiliated to Islamic State, but it is now being claimed that there are no indications the plane was shot down, Egyptian security sources said in the last hour.

More on this as it develops.

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