Turkish Police Detain 13 People Over Airport Attack

ISTANBUL (Reuters) -
A police officer patrols outside Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Wednesday, June 29, 2016. Suicide attackers killed dozens and wounded more than 140 at Istanbul's busy Ataturk Airport late Tuesday, the latest in a series of bombings to strike Turkey in recent months. Turkish officials said the massacre was most likely the work of the Islamic State group. (AP Photo) TURKEY OUT
A police officer patrols outside Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Wednesday. (AP Photo)

Turkish police have detained 13 people, including three foreigners, in connection with the triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s main airport, a Turkish official said on Thursday.

The three suicide bombers who carried out the attack were of Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationality, a Turkish official said.

The official gave no further details beyond confirming the terrorists’ nationalities and declined to be named because details of the investigation have not yet been released. Forensics teams 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.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala told parliament that evidence continued to point to Islamic State responsibility and that the death toll had risen to 43, of whom 19 were foreigners. Ala said the identity and nationality of one of the bombers had been determined but did not comment further.

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 terrorists since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper named him as Osman Vadinov and said he had come from Raqqa, the heart of Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria. The Russian interior ministry said it was checking information about Vadinov.

A spokesman for Kyrgyzstan’s state security service said it was investigating, while the Uzbek security service had no immediate comment.

Earlier, police carried out raids against suspected Islamic State cells in Istanbul and the Aegean coastal city of Izmir on Thursday, the state-run Anadolu agency said.

Counterterrorism police led by special forces officers carried out raids in several low-income neighborhoods of Istanbul – including Pendik, Basaksehir and Sultanbeyli – Anadolu said, without citing its sources.

Nine suspected terrorists, thought to have been in contact with Islamic State 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 Sunni terror group.

Turkey is part of a U.S.-led military coalition against Islamic State and home to around 3 million refugees from the five-year civil war in neighboring Syria.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for similar bombing and gun attacks in Belgium and France in the past year.

Police conducted simultaneous raids on 16 places in Istanbul, the official told Reuters.