USA TODAY US Edition
OFFICIAL: TURKEY BOMBERS FROM RUSSIA, UZBEKISTAN AND KYRGYZSTAN
Police detain 13 in connection with airport attack, reveal plans of scheme
The three suicide bombers who attacked Istanbul’s main airport, killing 44 people, were from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, a senior Turkish official said Thursday.
The statement came as counterterrorism teams launched 16 simultaneous raids in Istanbul, Reuters reported, quoting two unidentified officials. Turkish police detained 13 people, including three foreign nationals, in connection with the attack, local media reported.
The Karsi newspaper, quoting police sources, said the trio of attackers were part of a seven-person cell who entered Turkey on May 25. The assailants raised the suspicion of airport security on the day of the attack because they showed up in winter jackets on a summer day, several media outlets reported.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala raised the death toll to 44, including 19 foreign nationals, and 230 people were injured. Among those wounded, 94 remained in the hospital, the Istanbul governor’s office reported.
The private Dogan news agency said the Russian attacker entered the country one month ago and left his passport in a house the men rented in the neighborhood of Fatih.
The senior Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations, did not name the attackers, the Associated Press reported. He would not confirm Turkish media reports that the Russian national was from the restive Dagestan region.
Authorities suspect the Islamic State was behind the attack, although the terrorist group had not claimed responsibility.
Turkish police reportedly identified Ahmet Chatayev, a Chechen terrorism suspect, as the plotter of the attack, according to the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak. The newspaper said he worked for the founder of the Chechen Islamic Emirates and allegedly joined the Islamic State in 2013.
The newspaper, quoting unidentified intelligence sources, said the terrorists prepared for the attack in a rental house in an Istanbul neighborhood near a shopping mall. The newspaper said surveillance video shows the terrorists taking a taxi from the shopping mall to the airport on the day of the attack.
Thursday, nine suspects accused of links to the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, were arrested in large-scale police raids in the coastal city of Izmir, the Anadolu Agency reported. Police said they found three hunting rifles and documents related to the extremist group during the searches, according to the agency.
Turkish authorities declared a day of national mourning after Tuesday’s attack on the Ataturk Airport.
The attackers had arrived together at the lower-level arrivals hall of the airport. One went inside and detonated his explosives, an Interior Ministry official and another official told the Associated Press. During the chaos, the second attacker went upstairs to departures and blew himself up.
The third man waited outside and detonated his explosives last as people flooded out of the airport, the officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.
President Obama phoned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday to express his condolences.
He pledged to dismantle “organizations of hate,” saying the attack in Istanbul shows how little these “vicious organizations” have to offer.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala raised the death toll to 44, including 19 foreign nationals, and 230 people were injured.