20 Daesh suspects nabbed over Istanbul nightclub attack

Police raid 4 addresses in Aegean province of Izmir, number of arrests rises

20 Daesh suspects nabbed over Istanbul nightclub attack


By Mustafa Yildirim

IZMIR, Turkey

Police in western Turkey have arrested 20 suspected members of Daesh linked to the New Year’s Eve attack on an Istanbul nightclub, a police official said Wednesday. 

Eleven women were among those arrested by counter-terrorism officers at four addresses in the Bornova and Buca districts of Izmir, the official said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media. 

They are thought to have lived with the attacker -- who remains at large -- in the central Anatolian city of Konya, the official added. 

The police seized 41 passports belonging to different countries that are considered to be fake and 15 false identity documents issued to foreign nationals in Turkey.

A GPS device was also found in one of the addresses. Police noted that the seized GPS device was used in conflict areas, and the members of the Daesh determined the meeting points by positioning each other. 

The police stated that the suspects were in contact with the Daesh terrorists in the conflict areas. 

The suspects gave the impression that they had rented a house with their families and had a normal life in Izmir, where they came from Konya recently, the police added. 

The police official said night vision equipment, a sniper scope, an ammunition belt and other military equipment were found during the raids. Twenty children found at the addresses have been taken into temporary care.  

Later Wednesday, more suspects tied to the attack were detained on the outskirts of the city, police sources told Anadolu Agency.

The Istanbul Police Department's Anti-Terror Branch conducted an operation at a housing community in Silivri when it received information individuals who might be linked to the attack were hiding in the area. 

“Aid and abet" charges were levied against the suspects who are originally from east Turkestan -- an Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwestern China – according to sources who wished to remain anonymous and did not provide additional information about the operation or the number of suspects detained. 

Earlier, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu revealed authorities had identified the attacker who killed 39 people when he stormed the Reina nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortakoy district in the early hours of Jan. 1. Sixty-nine people were also hurt, with a number of foreign nationals among the casualties. They have also released security camera images of the suspect. 

On Monday and Tuesday, 16 people were arrested on suspicion of links to the attack.

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