Sunday 4 December 2016

Istanbul suicide bomber 'registered as refugee a week before attack'

David Chazan in Boulogne

Published 15/01/2016 | 02:30

Flowers are seen placed in front of the Obelisk of Theodosius where Tuesday's suicide bomb attack took place at Sultanahmet square in Istanbul, Turkey. Reuters/Osman Orsal
Flowers are seen placed in front of the Obelisk of Theodosius where Tuesday's suicide bomb attack took place at Sultanahmet square in Istanbul, Turkey. Reuters/Osman Orsal

The suicide bomber who killed 10 people in Istanbul registered as a refugee in Turkey just one week before the attack after entering the country from Syria, according to Turkish media.

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The bomber, identified as Nabil Fadli, a 28-year-old Saudi-born Syrian national, gave his fingerprints at an immigration centre in Istanbul on January 5 and was allowed to move freely in the days before the bombing.

He was not on Turkey's watch list of suspected militants and no other countries passed on warnings about him, the Turkish government said.

The disclosure raises questions for the Turkish security services and comes as Turkey arrested 68 people in a widespread round-up of suspected Isil members.

Only one person was arrested in direct connection with Tuesday's attack, which killed 10 German tourists and wounded another 15 people.

Three Russian citizens were arrested in the resort city of Antalya on suspicion of being members of the jihadist group, the government said.

"The investigation is continuing in a very intensive way," said Efkan Ala, the Turkish interior minister.

Thomas de Maiziere, the German interior minister, left flowers at the scene of the bombing in the Sultanahmet district, which is home to many of Istanbul's most historic sites.

Mr de Maiziere said there was "no indication" that the German tourists had been specifically targeted and said there was "no reason" for Germans to cancel trips to Turkey.

"It was an attack against humanity," he said.

Many of the victims were grandparents and members of a tour group for elderly people.

The dead include two couples, one in their seventies, and the other aged 59 and 61. The group of 33 arrived in Istanbul the night before the bombing. It was the first leg of a three-city tour organised by Lebenslust, or Lust for Life, a firm specialising in travel for older people.

Some members of the group were taking part in an organised tour around Istanbul landmarks when they were caught in the blast. Other members were spared because they opted to explore the city independently.

More lives might have been lost if it were not for the quick thinking of Sibel Satiroglu, a Turkish tour guide, who screamed "run" in German when she saw the bomber reveal his explosives, according to Turkey's 'Hurriyet' newspaper.

The German foreign ministry advised travellers to avoid crowds and German tour companies said travellers with booked trips to Istanbul could change their destinations without paying a penalty.

Tourists and locals left red carnations at the scene and some tied German football club scarves to the fence surrounding the obelisk of Theodosius, where the blast went off. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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