Turkish authorities on Wednesday identified the assailant behind the shooting at a nightclub in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed the news in an interview to state-run news agency Anadolu, but he did not name the suspect, The Independent reported. The Turkish Police had released a photo of the suspect on Monday.
Five men were arrested in connection with the attack on Wednesday, after police conducted a number of overnight raids in Izmir city. The suspects are believed to have links with the Islamic State group, which had claimed responsibility for the carnage.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus had earlier said that investigators had found the assailant’s fingerprints. He had added that the state of emergency in the country will be extended for as long as needed, Al Jazeera reported.
Officials believe the shooter could be from a Central Asian nation who entered Turkey from Syria via Konya city in November 2016, according to The Hurriyet Daily News. He had moved to Konya days before the attack and rented a house there with his family, who have been detained by the police. The assailant is also believed to be well-trained in the use of arms and to have fought in Syria for the Islamic State group, the report added.
Several videos of the massacre have been released in which the gunman can be seen. Another clip of the suspect taking a selfie footage as he toured the Taksim Square, one of the most famous locations in Istanbul, was also found, reported Sky News.
The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the shooting in Istanbul’s famous Reina nightclub on January 1, in which 39 people were killed. “A heroic soldier of the caliphate struck one of the most famous nightclubs where Christians celebrate their apostate holiday,” the extremist group had said. On New Year’s Day, the attacker, dressed as Santa Claus, fired indiscriminately at patrons at the club. Of the 39 dead, 27 were foreigners, including two Indians.
This is the second attack by the Islamic State group in Turkey in the last one month. On December 10, 38 people were killed in twin blasts outside a football stadium in Istanbul. The Islamic State and other radical groups have targeted Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation that is part of the United States-led coalition fighting the terror outfit in Syria.