Thu, Jan 05, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Turkey detains five suspects linked to nightclub attack

IDENTIFIEDThe suspected gunman has been identified, but the foreign ministry has not released any further details after a selfie video of the man emerged on Tuesday


A frame grab made from a video which was distributed by Turkish police and released on Tuesday shows the suspected gunman behind the attack at Reina nightclub, taking a selfie in Istanbul, Turkey.

Photo: Reuters

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.

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