Istanbul bombers were Russian, Uzbek,
Kyrgyz nationals: Turkish official
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[June 30, 2016]
By Humeyra Pamuk and Daren Butler
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Three suspected
Islamic State suicide bombers who killed 42 people in a gun and bomb
attack at Istanbul airport this week were from Russia, Uzbekistan and
Kyrgyzstan, a Turkish government official said on Thursday.
The attack on Europe's third-busiest airport was the deadliest in
a series of suicide bombings in Turkey this year.
The three bombers opened fire to create panic outside, before two of
them got inside the terminal building and blew themselves up. The
third detonated his explosives at the entrance. A further 239 people
The official gave no further details beyond confirming the
attackers' nationalities and declined to be named because details of
the investigation have not yet been released. Investigators had been
struggling to identify the bombers from their limited remains,
officials said earlier.
"A medical team is working around the clock to conclude the
identification process," one of the officials said.
The pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper said the Russian bomber was
from Dagestan, which borders Chechnya, where Moscow has led two wars
against separatists and religious militants since the Soviet Union
collapsed in 1991.
The Kyrgyz security service declined to comment, while the Uzbek
security service could not immediately be reached.
Turkish police detained 13 people, three of them foreigners, in
raids across Istanbul in connection with Tuesday night's attack.
Counter-terrorism teams led by police special forces launched
simultaneous raids at 16 locations in the city, two officials told
Reuters. Turkish authorities have said they believe Islamic State
was behind the airport attack.
Yeni Safak said the organizer of the attack was suspected to be a
man called Akhmed Chatayev, of Chechen origin. Chatayev is
identified on a United Nations sanctions list as a leader in Islamic
State responsible for training Russian-speaking militants, and as
wanted by Russian authorities.
The Hurriyet newspaper named one of the attackers as Osman Vadinov,
also Chechen, and said he had come from Raqqa, the heart of Islamic
State-controlled territory in Syria.
Turkish officials did not confirm to Reuters that either Chatayev or
Vadinov were part of the investigation.
Wars in neighboring Syria and Iraq have fostered a home-grown
Islamic State network blamed for a series of suicide bombings in
Turkey, including two others this year targeting foreign tourists in
the heart of Istanbul.
Islamic State has established a self-declared caliphate on swathes
of both Syria and Iraq and declared war on all non-Muslims plus
Muslims who do not accept its ultra-hardline vision of Sunni Islam.
It has claimed responsibility for similar bomb and gun attacks in
Belgium and France in the past year.
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Police officers patrol at the country's largest airport, Istanbul
Ataturk, following yesterday's blast in Istanbul, Turkey, June 29,
2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
Turkey, a member of the NATO military alliance and part of the
U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, has repeatedly fired back
on the Sunni hardliners in recent months after rocket fire from
northern Syria hit the border town of Kilis.
In a sign of the growing threats to Turkey, U.S. defense sources
said on Wednesday that Washington was moving towards permanently
banning families from accompanying U.S. military and civilian
personnel deployed in the country.
Critics say Turkey woke up too late to the threat from Islamic
State, focusing instead in the early part of the Syrian civil war on
trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad, arguing there could be no
peace without his departure.
Once a reluctant partner in the fight against Islamic State, Ankara
adjusted its military rules of engagement this month to allow NATO
allies to carry out more patrol flights along its border with Syria.
It has also carried out repeated raids on suspected Islamic State
safe houses in Turkey.
Nine suspected militants, thought to have been in contact with
Islamic State members in Syria, were detained in dawn raids in four
districts of the Aegean coastal city of Izmir on Thursday, the
state-run Anadolu news agency said.
It said they were accused of financing, recruiting and providing
logistical support to the group.
The military killed two suspected Islamic State members trying to
enter Turkey illegally at the weekend, security sources said on
One of the suspects, a Syrian national, was thought to have been
plotting a suicide bomb attack in either the capital Ankara or the
southern province of Adana, home to Incirlik, a major base used by
U.S. and Turkish forces through which some coalition air strikes
against Islamic State are carried out.
(Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow, Olzhas Auyezov
in Astana; Writing by Nick Tattersall; editing by David Stamp)
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