Ethiopia says no terrorist threat prior to crash

ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia had received no threat from terrorist groups prior to the crash Monday of an Ethiopian Airlines flight carrying 90 people just after takeoff in Beirut, a government spokesman said.

By (AFP)

Published: Mon 25 Jan 2010, 6:03 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:42 AM

“We had not received any threat before from terrorist groups whatsoever,” Shimeles Kemal, state minister for communication, told AFP.

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman also said earlier that foul play was not suspected.

The Ethiopian government official said the plane reportedly caught fire five minutes after takeoff.

“The cause of the accident is being investigated and the government will disclose the information as soon as the investigation is over,” he said.

Ethiopian Airlines dispatched a team of experts to Lebanon to probe the incident.

Ethiopia is grappling with rebellions in remote southern and eastern regions led by groups it describes as “terrorist” and has been routinely threatened by the Al Qaeda-linked Shebab group in neighbouring Somalia, a country it invaded three years ago to remove the Islamists from power.

A Lebanese defence ministry official said the Boeing 737 exploded into four pieces before crashing shortly after takeoff at 2:30 am (0030 GMT). Investigators were trying to determine whether lightning had hit the jet.

Witnesses reported seeing flames as the plane plunged into the sea.

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