Tuesday 17 October 2017

Gunman identified in nightclub attack as jihadi suspects are detained

This is the man police suspect carried out the massacre
This is the man police suspect carried out the massacre
Flowers and pictures of victims continue to pile up outside the Reina nightclub

Nick Tattersall, Istanbul

The gunman behind the Istanbul nightclub attack on New Year's Day has been identified by Turkish authorities investigating the massacre.

The move came as police detained dozens of suspected Isil members of Central Asian and North African origin. However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu refused to give any details about the killer.

The attacker shot his way into the exclusive Reina nightclub on Sunday, opening fire with an automatic rifle, reloading his weapon half-a-dozen times and shooting the wounded as they lay on the ground.

Turks as well as visitors from several Arab nations, India and Canada were among the 39 victims.

Isil has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for Turkish military involvement in Syria.

Turkish media reports have said the attacker is believed to be an ethnic Uighur, possibly from Kyrgyzstan. He appeared to have been well-versed in guerrilla warfare and may have trained in Syria, according to one security source.

Police in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir said they had detained 20 suspected Isil militants thought to be of Central Asian and North African origin in raids on three addresses. Fake passports, cell phones, and equipment including night vision goggles and a GPS device were seized.

Police did not say whether the detentions were directly linked to the Istanbul nightclub attack.

But local media reports have said the gunman is thought to have entered Turkey from Syria and spent time in Konya, travelling with his wife and two children so as not to attract attention.

At least 36 people have been detained since the attack, according to Turkish media reports.

One TV station said that 14 people had been detained in Istanbul, while another reported that two foreign nationals had been held at Istanbul's main airport.

Among those held in Istanbul were seven Uighurs detained at a restaurant in the working-class neighbourhood of Zeytinburnu, where the gunman was thought to have gone by taxi after the attack and asked to borrow money to pay the driver, according to the Haberturk newspaper.

It said raids had been carried out on more than 50 addresses in the district.

The atrocity in Istanbul's Ortakoy neighbourhood, an upmarket suburb in the Besiktas district, came after a year in which Nato member Turkey was shaken by a series of attacks by radical Islamist and Kurdish militants and by a failed coup.

Irish Independent

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