Turkish nightclub attack suspect said to be Uzbek-born, trained in Afghanistan

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on January 17 that Turkish authorities have captured the man they believe gunned down 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Day, and expressed hope that the suspect’s interrogation would unveil “powers” behind the attack, RFE/RL reported.

Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin identified the suspect as Abdulkadir Masharipov and said he was born in Uzbekistan in 1983 and had trained in Afghanistan.

Sahin said that Masharipov had confessed to carrying out the massacre, adding that his fingerprints matched prints found at the scene of the attack.

Authorities say the lone gunman arrived in a taxi and shot two people on the street before entering the upscale Reina nightclub early on January 1 and opening fire on revelers.

Sahin described Masharipov, who he said operated under the cover name Abu Muhammed Horasani, as “a well-educated terrorist who speaks four languages.”

The governor also said there were strong indications the suspect entered Turkey illegally through its eastern borders in January 2016.

He added that he had clearly carried out the nightclub massacre in the name of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, which claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for Turkish military involvement in Syria.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said it was too early to say whether the suspect was trained in Afghanistan, but he insisted that “all terrorist networks are based outside Afghanistan’s territory.”

“We have always done the maximum in order to prevent terrorists from having training centers and safe havens inside of Afghanistan,” Sediqi told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan. “But unfortunately the Taliban and terrorist groups have training centers and safe havens inside Pakistan’s territory.”

Turkish media reported earlier that police detained the alleged attacker late on January 16 in a police raid on an apartment in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district.

Sergey Kwan

TCA