Turkey makes new arrests over attack, tightens borders

- Agence France-Presse, Ankara

Jan 6, 2017-

Turkish police detained several new suspects on Thursday in fresh raids over the nightclub attack that killed 39, as authorities tightened borders to prevent the fugitive killer from escaping.

A top official said the attacker was likely a Turkic Uighur and reports have indicated the authorities are looking into the possible existence of a cell, also including other jihadists from Central Asia.

But with the prospect of a dangerous trained killer on the run in the city adding to tensions in Istanbul after a spate of attacks, the authorities have still not caught the individual.

In the early hours of Sunday, a gunman 

stormed the swanky Reina nightclub on the shores of the Bosphorus in Istanbul and sprayed 120 bullets at terrified partygoers celebrating New Year.

Of the 39 dead, 27 were foreigners including citizens from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Morocco.

The Islamic State group (IS) took responsibility for the massacre in a statement on Monday, marking the first time it has issued a clear and undisputed claim for a major attack inside Turkey.

The extremist group said it was a response to Ankara’s ambitious military operation against it in northern Syria, where Turkish armed forces are supporting opposition fighters retaking territory from IS.

Special forces detained several people suspected of links with the attack on the outskirts of Istanbul on Thursday, state-run news agency Anadolu said.

Authorities also tightened Turkish land borders, Dogan news agency reported, over fears the killer planned to flee the country. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that the attacker had been identified but did not give a name or further details. 

Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak told A Haber broadcaster on Thursday that the attacker was “probably” of Uighur origin as he sought to play down fears that the 

Previous reports had said the killer could be from Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan.

Published: 06-01-2017 09:46

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