Fri | Mar 23, 2018

Airport attackers were from Russia, Central Asia

Published:Friday | July 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM
People look at the portraits of victims as family members, colleagues, and friends of the victims of Tuesday blasts gather for a memorial ceremony at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, yesterday.


As the death toll from the Istanbul airport attack rose yesterday to 44, a senior Turkish official said the three suicide bombers who carried it out were from Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, and police raided neighbourhoods looking for suspects linked to the Islamic State (IS) group.

Turkish authorities have said all information suggested that the Tuesday night attack on Ataturk Airport, one of the world's busiest, was the work of Islamic State, which boasted this week of having cells in Turkey, among other countries.

The police raided 16 locations in three neighbourhoods on both the Asian and European sides of Istanbul, rounding up 13 people suspected of having links to the Islamic State group.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility by the militant group, which has used Turkey as a crossing point to establish itself in neighbouring Syria and Iraq. IS has repeatedly threatened Turkey in its propaganda publications, and the NATO member has blamed IS for several major bombings in the past year in both Ankara and Istanbul.

The senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because government regulations did not authorise him to talk to the media, said the attackers were from Russia and the Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. He could not confirm media reports that the Russian was from the restive Dagestan region in the Caucasus Mountains.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that between 5,000 and 7,000 people from Russia and other nations of the former Soviet Union have joined the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala said the dead included 19 foreigners. Dozens from the 230 people initially reported wounded are still hospitalised.

Two memorial services for victims were held at the airport, one of them honouring taxi drivers slain in the attack. Five funerals were held elsewhere.