Istanbul attacker fought for IS in Syria

ISTANBUL: The gunman who killed 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub had fought in Syria for IS extremists, a report said on Tuesday, as Turkish authorities intensified their hunt for the attacker.
Police released pictures of the suspect who went on the rampage at the plush Reina nightclub on New Year’s night, spraying some 120 bullets at terrified guests before slipping away into the night. Of the 39 dead, 27 were foreigners, mainly from Arab countries, with coffins repatriated overnight to countries including Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
The IS group on Monday claimed the massacre, the first time it has clearly stated being behind a major attack in Turkey. The government said on Monday that eight people had been detained but media reports said the number had increased to 12 after new detentions in the Anatolian city of Konya. The Dogan news agency said they included a woman suspected of being his wife but gave no further details.
The Hurriyet daily said the attacker showed signs of being well trained in the use of arms and had fought in Syria for IS extremists. Hurriyet’s well-connected columnist Abdulkadir Selvi said the attacker had been identified, with investigators focusing on the idea he was from Central Asia.
Selvi said he had been trained in street fighting in residential areas in Syria and used these techniques in the attack, shooting from the hip rather than as a sniper.
The attacker had been “specially selected” to carry out the shooting, he said. According to Hurriyet, just 28 bullets failed to hit a target.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday that the authorities had obtained fingerprint data about the gunman and expressed hope he would be “speedily” identified.
Selvi wrote that the priority now was to detain the assailant and neutralise the cell that apparently backed him, in order to prevent any new attack. “This specially trained terrorist has still not been detained and is still wandering dangerously amongst us,” he wrote.
He said that an IS strike was also planned in Ankara on New Year’s night but that it had been prevented after eight IS suspects were arrested in the capital.
— AFP

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