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Iran Press TV

Main suspect in Istanbul club attack entered Turkey via Syria: Hurriyet

Iran Press TV

Wed Jan 4, 2017 7:9AM

The Daesh-affiliated terrorist, who slew 39 people at an upscale Istanbul nightclub hours into the New Year, had reportedly entered Turkey via Syrian soil.

Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News said fresh details show the would-be attacker had settled down together with his wife and two children in the west-central Turkish province of Konya after arriving from neighboring Syria in November.

CCTV footage obtained by a Turkish news agency showed the suspect walking into a bus terminal in the province's capital of the same name last month.

Early on Sunday, the unidentified assailant stormed the Reina nightclub, where some 700 people were celebrating New Year. Nearly 70 people were also injured in the shooting spree, which was later claimed by the Takfiri Daesh terror group.

Turkish authorities have made dozens of arrests in connection with the bloody assault.

On Wednesday, the Turkish Dogan news agency said 27 people had been arrested by police in the western city of Izmir.

Local media said 14 suspects were also detained on Tuesday. Most of the detainees are said to be Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has confirmed that the identity of the gunman has been established, without giving more details, the Anadolu news agency reported.

The suspect remains at large. But his family members, whose identities have not been released, are in police custody, according to Hurriyet.

The report cited his wife as saying in her testimony that she learned about the attack from the TV, alleging she didn't even know that her husband was a Daesh sympathizer, let alone a militant.

According to the daily, the assailant knew the secret exits out of the Reina club, whereby he escaped and took a taxi. While on his way away from the club, he asked to use the driver's cell phone, and told him he could not pay for the ride after getting off.

Several video recordings have emerged following the attack, including a selfie footage taken prior to the incident, which shows the suspect filming himself and his surroundings at Istanbul's Taqsim Square.

The attack was carried out using a long-barreled assault weapon alongside a stun grenade, used to facilitate the massacre.

The gunman is suspected to have known in advance that the guards at the club were not allowed to carry weapons.

Turkey has come under numerous acts of terror over the past year, mostly claimed by Daesh and Kurdish militants.

The country has long been viewed as a safe transit route for Takfiri militants, including Daesh terrorists, into Syria. Ankara stands widely accused of providing support to the militant groups operating against the government in Damascus.

In another development on Tuesday, the leader of Turkey's opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu held the Ankara government responsible for the rise in terror attacks in the country.

He also blamed the administration for "ideological affiliation" with terrorist organizations.

"You are a government that aids and abets terrorist organizations," he said on Tuesday. "They [the government] sent arms [to Syria] in trailers. Now all those arms are returning back to Turkey," he added.

Last August, the German government likewise said Turkey had worked with extremist groups and supported militant organizations in the Middle East for years.

The German Interior Ministry made the remarks in a statement based on information from Germany's Federal Intelligence Service (BND), adding that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had actively supported cooperation with Islamist and terrorist organizations.

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