Sunday 23 July 2017

Selfie video shows 'Islamic State nightclub gunman' in Istanbul square

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)
A police officer looks at photographs of the victims after the attack at a nightclub in Istanbul (AP)

Turkish media have broadcast new footage of a man believed to be the Islamic State gunman who killed 39 people at a nightclub, showing a selfie video of the suspect as he circles Istanbul's most famous square.

The camera never leaves the man's unsmiling face as he walks through Taksim Square, one of the city's prime tourist spots, during the 44-second video broadcast on state-run Anadolu television and other media.

It was not clear if it was filmed before or after the new year massacre at the Reina nightclub, or how the footage was obtained.

The gunman is still at large. Authorities have not publicly identified him, and police have denied reports that Kyrgyz passport information circulating in Turkish media belonged to him.

Islamic State claimed the attack on Monday, saying a "soldier of the caliphate" had carried out the mass shooting to avenge Turkish military operations against IS in northern Syria.

At least 14 people have been detained in connection with the attack.

Hurriyet newspaper said a woman identified by Turkish media as the wife of the massacre suspect has told police she did not know her husband was an IS member.

The woman was detained in the central town of Konya as part of the investigation. Neither she nor her husband has been identified by name. Hurriyet reported that the woman said she learned about the attack on television and told police she did not know her husband harboured "sympathies toward" IS.

Media reports said the gunman flew to Istanbul from Kyrgyzstan with his wife and children on November 20. From there, they drove to the Turkish capital Ankara before arriving in Konya on November 22.

The family rented a studio in Konya, paying three months' rent upfront. The gunman told the estate agent he had arrived in Konya in search of work, according to the report.

Hurriyet said the gunman returned to Istanbul on December 29.

Several media outlets, citing unnamed security sources, said the man was believed to be from Central Asia and may have been part of the cell that staged a June attack on Istanbul's Ataturk Airport that killed 45 people.

Haber Turk newspaper said he is thought to be a member of China's Muslim Uighur minority.

The nightclub assailant, armed with a long-barrelled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian in the early hours of 2017 outside the club before opening fire on about 600 people inside.

The establishment is frequented by famous locals, including singers, actors and athletes. Most of the dead on Sunday were foreign tourists.

Turkey has been rocked by violence in the past year, much of it blamed on IS. The government survived a failed coup over the summer and is also fighting against Kurdish insurgents.

AP

Press Association

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