Istanbul: Police on Tuesday, January 17, began questioning a suspected ISIS militant accused of killing 39 people during a New Year’s attack on an Istanbul nightclub, Turkish media reports said.
The gunman, who the media reports identified as Uzbekistan national Abdulgadir Masharipov, was caught late Monday in a police operation at a luxury residential complex in Istanbul.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said a man from Kyrgyzstan and three women – from Somalia, Senegal and Egypt – were also detained in the raid, while the gunman’s four-year-old son was taken under protective custody.
ISIS had claimed responsibility for the nightclub massacre, saying the attack in the first hours of January 1 was in reprisal for Turkish military operations in northern Syria. The man identified as the suspect had been on the run since the attack.
Private NTV television said Masharipov and the four other suspects were being questioned at Istanbul’s police headquarters on Tuesday. Istanbul’s governor and police chief were scheduled to make a statement later on Tuesday.
Anadolu said police have also carried out raids on members of a suspected Uzbek ISIS cell in five Istanbul neighbourhoods and detained several people.
Authorities had set up a 1000-person force to capture the gunman, Anadolu said.
Photographs from raids, widely published in the Turkish media, showed a bruised, black-haired man in a grey, bloodied shirt being held by his neck. NTV television said the gunman had resisted arrest.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu posted a Twitter message thanking the interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, police and intelligence organisations “who caught the Reina attacker in the name of the people.”
Earlier in the day, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the Reina nightclub attack had been carried out professionally with the help of an intelligence organisation, a claim he had made in the first days after the attack. He did not name the organisation suspected of being involved.
Hundreds of people were gathered at the swanky Reina nightclub to celebrate the end of a tumultuous 2016 only to become the first victims of 2017. The gunman shot a police officer and a civilian outside the club, then stormed the premises.
Most of the dead in the attack on the upscale club were foreign nationals, from the Middle East.