Istanbul bombers were ‘Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz’
Counter-terrorism police and special forces officers carried out raids in several low-income areas of Istanbul and Izmir
Three suspected ISIS suicide bombers who killed 43 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 were wounded.
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 ISIS was behind the airport attack.
Yeni Safak said the organiser 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 ISIS 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 ISIS-controlled territory in Syria.
Turkish officials did not confirm to Reuters that either Chatayev or Vadinov were part of the investigation.
Nine suspected militants, thought to have been in contact with ISIS members in Syria, were meanwhile detained in the dawn raids in four districts of Izmir, the news agency said. It said they were accused of financing, recruiting and providing logistical support to the extremist group.
Turkey is part of a US-led military coalition against ISIS and home to around 3 million refugees from the five-year civil war in neighboring Syria.