Wed, Jan 18, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Suspected Istanbul New Year gunman confesses: governor

AFP, ISTANBUL, Turkey

A photograph released by Turkish police and taken from the Dogan news agency on Jan. 2 shows the main suspect in the Reina nightclub rampage one day after a gunman killed 39 people in Istanbul.

Photo: AFP / Dogan news agency / Turkish police

A 34-year-old Uzbek man suspected of slaughtering 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Eve yesterday confessed to the massacre, hours after his capture in a police raid.

Authorities detained Abdulgadir Masharipov, who spent 17 days on the run after the attack claimed by the Islamic State group, along with three women and an Iraqi man during a massive police operation in Istanbul.

“The terrorist confessed his crime,” Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin told reporters, saying the suspect’s fingerprints matched those of the attacker and confirming he is an Uzbekistan national.

“He was trained in Afghanistan and can speak four languages. He’s a well-trained terrorist,” Sahin said, adding that Masharipov is believed to have first entered Turkey in January last year.

Police also confiscated US$197,000, two firearms with magazines during the raid on an apartment, he added.

The arrest lessened the anxiety of Istanbul residents, already on edge after a string of terror attacks, who had feared for more than two weeks that a trained killer was on the loose in the city.

Local media published a picture of the detained man with blood on his face and T-shirt, his neck gripped by a police officer.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed the arrest and congratulated the security forces.

“From now on in this country nobody will get away with what they have done,” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara. “Everyone will be brought to account within the rule of law.”

The operation to capture the suspect involved about 2,000 police officers, the Istanbul governor said.

The suspect had apparently slipped into the night following the attack on the glamorous Reina nightclub on the Bosphorus, while police tightened borders to prevent him escaping, but he was hiding in the working-class, densely populated western districts of Istanbul. Days of police tracking eventually traced him to an apartment in Esenyurt District.

An Iraqi man was also detained with him, as well as three women, one a Egyptian and two others from African states, Sahin said.

All the suspects were still being interrogated at police headquarters, he added.

The Islamic State group took responsibility for the bloodbath, the first time it has ever openly claimed a major attack in Turkey.

It had previously been blamed for several strikes in Turkey, including the triple suicide bombings at Istanbul airport in June last year.

Of the 39 killed in the Reina attack, 27 were foreigners, including citizens from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Morocco.

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