The government of Turkey is leaving no stones unturned in hunting for the suspect responsible for the Istanbul nightclub attack on New Year’s Day that killed 39 people.
Since the aftermath of the incident, the Turkish police have arrested 12 people from the raids that they have conducted in Istanbul to intensify their manhunt for the suspect.
Turkey Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said that Turkish authorities already had fingerprints and a basic description of the suspect. He also promised to speedily identify and apprehend the suspect.
According to reports, there were about 600 New Year’s revelers in the Reina nightclub early on Sunday when the gunman attacked, killing 39 people from various countries.
Of the 39 dead, 11 were Turkish, seven were Saudi Arabians, three were Iraqis, three were Lebanese, two Jordanians, two Indians, two Moroccans, and one each from the countries of Germany, Syria, Israel, France-Tunisia, Tunisia, Belgium, Kuwait, Canada, and Russia. The body of one of those who died has yet to be identified, reports BBC.
The Islamic State (IS) group immediately claimed that it was behind the attack on the Istanbul nightclub.
Knows the identity of the suspect
It would seem that the Turkish authorities already know the suspect’s identity but is not about yet ready to disclose it in public.
But apparently, some Turkish media already got wind of the report. Accordingly, the suspect may have been from Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan.
Based on the video footage obtained from the nightclub, the police have already released new images said to be of the suspect but have not yet named him.
The police are now verifying whether the suspect indeed belongs to an IS cell that was reportedly responsible for the attack on Ataturk airport in Istanbul in June of last year.
There are also speculations suggesting that the suspect may have traveled to Turkey with his wife and two children in November to avoid detection and that his family is among those who were detained by authorities.
A message against Turkey
Deputy Prime Minister Kurtulmus said that the Istanbul nightclub attack was a message to the Turkish government for its operations in Syria against the IS group but he assured that such would not at all be affected.
It can be recalled that following the attack on Ataturk airport in June, Turkey launched a military operation in August aimed at pushing back IS and Kurdish forces, with some of the most intensive recent fightings against IS around the northern town of al-Bab in Syria.
IS said, in a statement, that the Istanbul nightclub attack was carried out by a heroic soldier. It also accused Turkey of shedding the blood of Muslims through its air strikes and mortar attacks in Syria.
Although IS has been linked to other attacks in Turkey, it has not claimed responsibility before.
The gunman knew where to go
Based on eyewitnesses’ accounts, the gunman arrived at the club by taxi before rushing through the entrance with a long-barrelled gun he had taken from the boot of the car.
The attacker fired randomly at people in an assault lasting seven minutes, starting with a security guard and a travel agent near the entrance. Both were killed.
The gunman reportedly changed clothes before fleeing the chaos. About two-thirds of those killed were foreigners.
At least 69 people are being treated in hospital for injuries with three in serious condition.
An eyewitness also said that the gunman stormed in and immediately headed for the people to the left, which is always more crowded. The witness said that the gunman seemed to know where to go.
He added that the gunman was shooting randomly but aiming for their upper bodies. He said that the attacker did not just want to injure people but he wanted to kill everyone in sight.
The nightclub, which sits on the banks of the Bosphorus, is one of Istanbul’s most fashionable venues and very popular with foreigners and often frequented by singers and sports stars.
Meanwhile, CNN made a report about the lone Israeli victim, Leanne Nasser, who begged her parents to let her go to Istanbul. She had never been abroad and had never left Israel.
Her three friends were going to the city on the Bosporus to celebrate New Year’s Eve and she wanted to go with them.
Nasser’s father refused. He was worried Istanbul wasn’t safe and he wanted her to stay home. Despondent, she turned to her aunt, Layal Masarweh, who intervened on her behalf.