Saturday, November 28th, 2020
  
 

Gunman was a ‘street fighter’ in Syria

A “selfie” video shows footage of the man suspected of conducting the New Year’s gun attack in an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people. Rough cut (no reporter narration).

A mourner cries over the Turkish flag-draped coffin of Yunus Gormek, 23, one of the victims of the attack at a nightclub on New Year’s Day. Picture: AP

THE gunman who killed 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub had fought in Syria for Islamic State jihadists, local media report, as Turkish authorities continue 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 Islamic State group on Monday claimed the massacre, the first time it has clearly stated being behind a major attack in Turkey.

The government said 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.

Men carry the coffins of Saudi victims who were killed in an attack on the Reina nightclub on New Year’s Eve in Istanbul. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

The Hurriyet daily said the attacker showed signs of being well trained in the use of arms and had fought in Syria for IS jihadists.

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 among 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. There were no further details.

SUSPECT’S IMAGE RELEASED

Video footage has emerged of the prime suspect in the Istanbul nightclub terror attack after he slaughtered 39 New Year’s Eve partygoers.

The picture, released by the Turkish police and taken from Dogan News Agency, shows the main suspect who stormed into the Reina nightclub and opened fire at random.

The suspect is seen staring into his smartphone camera as he films himself in the popular meeting area of Taksim Square.

He is pictured wearing a black hooded puffer jacket as he walks around and smirks at the lens.

The new photo released by Turkish police and taken from Dogan News Agency. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Turkish authorities say they are close to fully identifying the gunman and have detained up to 12 people.

“Information about the fingerprints and basic appearance of the terrorist have been found,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said.

“In the process after this, work to identify him swiftly will be carried out.”

As authorities released a new image of the gunman, local media reports claim he hails from either Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan. This has not been confirmed.

The development comes as Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Reina nightclub massacre, which unfolded at around 1.30am local time on Sunday (9.30am AEDT).

“In continuation of the blessed operations that Islamic State is conducting against the protector of the cross, Turkey, a heroic soldier of the caliphate struck one of the most famous nightclubs where the Christians celebrate their apostate holiday,” IS said in a statement.

CCTV shows the man identified by police as the main suspect. Picture: APSource:AP

The man carried out the attack at the nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortakoy. Picture: APSource:AP

Arriving by taxi at the plush Reina nightclub on the shores of the Bosphorus, the gunman produced a weapon, reportedly a Kalashnikov, and shot dead a policeman and civilian at the entrance.

He then fired off four magazines containing a total of 120 bullets around the club which was filled with an estimated 700 people. Terrified guests flung themselves into the freezing waters of the Bosphorus in panic.

But after changing clothes, the gunman left the nightclub in the ensuing chaos and has managed to evade security forces.

There were no reports that security services had come close to detaining the gunman but Kurtulmus said physical and fingerprint data had been obtained.

“It is a difficult investigation,” he said, vowing to “speedily” identify the attacker and “if there are outside supporters and the forces behind them”.

The main suspect in the Reina nightclub rampage one day after a gunman killed 39 people, including many foreigners, in an attack at an up-market nightclub in Istanbul. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Kurtulmus said anti-terror police have detained eight suspects. But there was no indication of their relationship to the attacker and the minister did not comment on the IS claim.

Hurriyet Daily said investigators believe the gunman may be from the Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan.

Mr Kurtulmus said Turkey was determined to continue fighting violent groups declaring: “Wherever they may hide in 2017, we will enter their lair … With the will of God, with the support of our people, with all our national capacity, we will bring them to their knees and give them all the necessary response.”