Somalia's Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, say they carried out the bombing of a commercial passenger jet earlier this month that blew a hole in the fuselage, sucking out the suspected bomber and forcing the plane to make an emergency landing.

In a statement released Saturday, al-Shabab said the explosion targeted Western and Turkish intelligence agents aboard the Daallo Airlines flight to Djibouti on Feb. 2. It said the bombing had been planned to destroy the Airbus 321 plane but it failed. Al-Shabab said it will continue such attacks.

The bomb exploded shortly after takeoff from Mogadishu airport, when the plane was at 11,000 feet and ascending. Experts say if the plane had been at its intended cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, the explosion could have brought down the aircraft.