Turkish police yesterday detained at least five suspected Islamic State group militants believed to be linked to the deadly Istanbul nightclub attack, a state-run news agency reported.
The operation was launched in the Aegean port city of Izmir and was ongoing, Anadolu Agency said.
The gunman, who killed 39 people during New Year’s Eve celebrations, has not been publicly named and is still at large, but Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu said authorities had identified the man, without providing details.
“The identity of the person who carried out the attack on the Reina nightclub has been established,’” he told Anadolu in a live televised interview.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which also wounded nearly 70 people. Of those killed 27 were foreigners.
The militants said a “soldier of the caliphate” had carried out the mass shooting to avenge Turkish military operations against the Islamic State group in northern Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the attack aims to set Turks against each other and deepen fault lines, but the country would not fall for this game.
Erdogan made the comments in a live speech from Ankara, the first time he has publicly addressed the nation since the attack.
Responding to accusations in the past that Turkey had given support to the Islamic State group, Erdogan said that “to present the country which is leading the greatest struggle against DAESH as one supporting terrorism is what the terror organization wants,’’ referring to the Islamic State group by its other name.
“In Turkey, no one’s way of life is under any threat. Those who claim this have to prove it. It is my duty to protect everyone’s rights,” he said. “To say Turkey has surrendered to terrorism is to take sides with the terrorists and terror organizations.”
Police in Istanbul have set up checkpoints and are checking vehicles across the city as security levels remained high.
Police were stopping cars and Istanbul’s ubiquitous yellow taxis, with passengers and drivers holding up their identifications while officers inspected inside the vehicles.
Istanbul has been on high alert since the attack.
The private Dogan news agency said the police operation targeted three families who had arrived in Izmir about 20 days ago from Konya — a city in central Turkey where the gunman is thought to have been based.
It said 27 people, including women and children, were taken into custody.
At least 14 people were previously detained in connection with the attack, including two foreigners stopped on Tuesday at Istanbul Ataturk Airport after police checked their cellphones and luggage, according to Anadolu.
Turkish media reports on Tuesday said that the gunman’s wife was in custody and had told police she did not know her husband was linked to militants.
A selfie video emerged of the alleged gunman on Tuesday, showing him silently touring Istanbul’s Taksim Square.
Dignitaries from 47 countries yesterday congratulated President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on the commencement of her second term and highlighted Taiwan’s achievements in democracy and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his congratulations a day earlier. As of noon yesterday, 263 high-ranking officials from 47 countries and global organizations had congratulated Tsai via statements, letters, social media posts or recorded footage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, while releasing a collection of footage sent by selected dignitaries. The governments of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies sent their congratulations, as did the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy,
REASSURING NUMBERS: Taiwan’s test capacity ranks sixth or seventh among 91 nations, and is not low compared with other nations, Chen Shih-chung said The quarantine period for foreigners visiting Taiwan for business would vary based on the COVID-19 situation of the nation or territory that they are coming from, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported the 13th consecutive day of no new cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told reporters at the center’s daily briefing that modified rules covering foreign business visitors had been completed and were ready for him to sign. The complete details of the new rules would be released later this week, he said. Foreigners on long business trips would have
The Czech Republic’s Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution that supports a possible visit by the senate president to Taiwan. The resolution, initiated by Czech Senator Pavel Fischer, was passed with 50 votes in favor, one against and one abstention. The resolution blasts Beijing for having its Prague embassy send a letter to former Czech Senate president Jaroslav Kubera earlier this year threatening repercussions for Czech businesses if he visited Taiwan. The resolution shows the Senate’s support for a visit to Taiwan by Senate President Milos Vystrcil, accompanied by Czech business representatives, as the visit would be in the diplomatic long-term interests
The government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday both spoke out against plans by the Chinese government to enact a national security law in Hong Kong. Chinese officials yesterday confirmed that the National People’s Congress would review a bill “on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.” The Presidential Office said that the announcement was evidence that the “one country, two systems” framework fundamentally clashes with democratic freedoms. The de-escalation of tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing relies on the Chinese government’s willingness to respond to Hong Kongers’ demands,