IS Caims Responsibility for Istanbul Terror Attack

ISTANBUL (AP/Reuters) -
This image taken from CCTV provided by Haberturk newspaper Sunday shows the terrorist, armed with a long-barreled weapon, shooting his way into a popular venue in Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday morning, where he killed 39 people and wounded dozens of others. (CCTV/Haberturk Newspaper via AP)

The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the terror attack on a popular Istanbul venue early Sunday which killed 39 people on Sunday, the group said in a statement on Monday.

Hurriyet and Karar newspaper reports Monday cited unnamed security officials saying that authorities have determined that the terrorist who killed 39 people comes from a Central Asian nation and is believed to be either from Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan.

Police had also established similarities with the high-casualty attack at Ataturk Airport in June and was investigating whether the same IS cell carried out both attacks.

The terrorist, who is still at large, killed a policeman and another man outside the club in the early hours of Sunday before firing at people inside.

Nearly two-thirds of the dead were foreigners, many from the Middle East.

The mass shooting followed more than 30 violent acts over the past year in Turkey, which is a member of the NATO alliance and a partner in the U.S.-led coalition fighting against the Islamic State terror group in Syria and Iraq. The country endured multiple bombings in 2016, including three in Istanbul alone that authorities blamed on IS, a failed coup attempt in July and renewed conflict with Kurdish rebels in the southeast.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vehemently condemned “the terror attack in Istanbul’s Ortakoy neighborhood in the first hours of 2017” and offered condolences for those who lost their lives, including the “foreign guests.”

Among the dead were an 18-year-old Israeli woman, three Indians, three Lebanese, a woman with dual French-Tunisian citizenship and her Tunisian husband, two Jordanians, a Belgian national, a Kuwaiti citizen and a Canadian, according to those countries’ governments and a diplomat.

A U.S. State Department official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said one American man was among those wounded. Turkey’s minister for family and social policies, Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, said citizens of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon and Libya were among those injured.

Security camera footage obtained by The Associated Press from Haberturk newspaper shows what appears to be a man dressed in black and carrying a backpack as he shoots down a police officer outside the club.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the terrorist left a gun at the scene of the attack and escaped by “taking advantage of the chaos” that ensued.