US officials looking to Al Shabaab as suspect in explosion on airplane over Somalia

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Federal authorities are closely monitoring the investigation into an explosion aboard a Daallo Airlines flight over Somalia and are looking at Somali Al Qaeda affiliate Al Shabaab as a leading suspect, a law enforcement source told Fox News on Wednesday.

The FBI would not comment on the incident on Wednesday, and the TSA would not comment on any enhanced security measures the agency will be undertaking in light of the incident.

On Tuesday, an explosion and fire blew a gaping hole in a commercial airliner over Somalia, forcing it to make an emergency landing after a passenger apparently was sucked out of the cabin, officials and witnesses said.

The Airbus A321 plane, operated by Dubai-based Daallo Airlines and headed to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, was forced to land minutes after taking off from the Mogadishu airport, Somali aviation official Ali Mohamoud said.

“I think it was a bomb,” said the Serbian pilot, Vladimir Vodopivec, who was quoted by Belgrade daily Blic. “Luckily, the flight controls were not damaged so I could return and land at the airport. Something like this has never happened in my flight career. We lost pressure in the cabin. Thank god it ended well,” the 64-year-old pilot said.

Vodopivec went on to say that fortunately the flight controls were not damaged, so he was able to return to Mogadishu’s airport and make an emergency landing. He also claimed authorities have told him it was most probably a bomb.

An aviation expert who looked at photographs of the hole in the fuselage said the damage was consistent with an explosive device, according to The Associated Press.

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