Wednesday 28 June 2017

Police hunt 'closing in on gunman behind club massacre'

A man believed to be the gunman who killed dozens at an Istanbul nightclub films himself as he wanders near Istanbul's Taksim square (DHA-Depo Photos via AP)
A man believed to be the gunman who killed dozens at an Istanbul nightclub films himself as he wanders near Istanbul's Taksim square (DHA-Depo Photos via AP)

Dusan Stojanovic in Istanbul

Turkish police are closing in on the gunman who killed 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub, a senior official said, insisting his possible whereabouts and contacts have been established.

Deputy prime minister Veysi Kaynak said the gunman who attacked the Reina club during New Year's celebrations was most probably from China's Muslim Uighur minority and was a "specially trained member of a cell".

"The security forces have determined his identity, his possible whereabouts have been determined. His contacts have also been determined," he told the A Haber news channel in an interview. "We can say that the circle is closing in on him."

Mr Kaynak said authorities believed the man, whose name has not been revealed, was still inside Turkey. "Because we have taken utmost measures at our airports, even though we don't rule it out completely, we believe that we will get results from operations inside Turkey," he said.

Custody

His comments came hours after police conducted more raids in their hunt for the gunman, detaining several people at a housing complex on Istanbul's outskirts, the state-run news agency reported.

The Anadolu Agency said police and special operations teams conducted raids in the Silivri district, detaining an undisclosed number of Uighurs. The report said that those rounded up were suspected of "aiding and abetting" the gunman.

At least 39 other people, including 11 women, are already in custody over suspected links to the attack.

Isil has claimed responsibility for the massacre, saying it was in reprisal for Turkish military operations in northern Syria.

Turkish media have widely published images of the suspect, including a selfie video filmed in Istanbul's Taksim Square.

Deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus suggested in an interview with the 'Hurriyet Daily News' that "foreign intelligence services" could be behind the attack, pointing at the "professional" manner in which it was carried out.

Irish Independent

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