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Istanbul Gunman Caught After 2 Weeks   01/17 06:06

   ISTANBUL (AP) -- Turkish police captured the gunman who carried out the 
deadly New Year's nightclub attack in Istanbul, with officials saying Tuesday 
that he's an Uzbekistan national who trained in Afghanistan and confessed to 
the massacre.

   The man was being questioned by police, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told 
reporters in Ankara. Yildirim expressed hope that the interrogation would 
unveil the "forces" behind the attack, which killed 39 people and has already 
been claimed by the Islamic State group.

   Hundreds of people were gathered at the swanky Reina nightclub to celebrate 
the end of a tumultuous 2016 only to become the first victims of 2017. The 
gunman shot a police officer and a civilian outside the club, before storming 
the club.

   Most of the dead in the attack were foreign nationals, mainly from the 
Middle East.

   "The vile terrorist who attacked the place of entertainment on New Year's 
Eve and led to the loss of so many lives has been captured," Yildirim said.

   He added: "What is important is for the suspect to be captured and for the 
forces behind it to be revealed."

   The premier wouldn't provide further details on the arrest or the 
investigation, saying authorities would provide specifics "in time."

   Moments later in separate remarks, Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin said that 
the suspect is an Uzbekistan national who trained in Afghanistan. He is 
believed to have entered Turkey in January 2016. Sahin identified him as 
Abdulkadir Masharipov, saying he was born in 1983 without giving an exact 
birthday. Turkish media have reported the suspect's first name as Abdulgadir.

   Sahin said that the man, captured late Monday, confessed to carrying out the 
massacre and that his fingerprints matched those of the attacker. He can be 
held for up to 30 days under Turkey's state of emergency, which was introduced 
after a failed coup attempt in July, before he is charged and formally 
arrested. It could take prosecutors several months to prepare for a trial.

   The suspect, according to Sahin, was a well-educated terrorist who speaks 
four languages and had clearly carried out the attack in the name of IS. He was 
operating under the alias "Ebu Muhammed Horasani."

   The police operation to apprehend him drew on the review of 7,200 hours of 
security camera footage and about 2,200 tipoffs from the public. Police 
searched 152 addresses and 50 people were taken into custody.

   Authorities seized nearly $200,000, two guns and two drones during the 
suspect's arrest.

   "Together with the terrorist, an Iraqi man was detained as well as three 
women from various countries --- from Egypt and from Africa," Sahin said. 
"There is a high chance that they may be connected (to IS) because they were 
staying in the same house."

   The governor said it was believed that they arrived three days earlier at 
Esenyurt, an overall low-income neighborhood of Istanbul that has witnessed a 
construction boom.

   The state-run Anadolu Agency said that the gunman's 4-year-old son was taken 
into protective custody.

   Hurriyet newspaper earlier reported that the suspect's wife and 1-year-old 
daughter were caught in a police operation in the neighborhood of Zeytinburnu, 
a working class district of Istanbul, on Jan. 12.

   In another report citing police officials, the newspaper said the gunman had 
picked up his son from the working-class neighborhood of Zeytinburnu after 
attacking the nightclub.

   Sahin said the boy wasn't with the gunman on the night of the police 
operation, although he had taken the child with him and left his daughter with 
his wife.

   IS has claimed responsibility for the nightclub massacre, saying the attack 
in the first hours of Jan. 1 was in reprisal for Turkish military operations in 
northern Syria. The man identified as the suspect had been on the run since the 
attack.

   Days after the attack, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said an 
intelligence agency may have been involved, an assertion he reiterated Monday. 
But Sahin, when asked about it, declined to comment saying: "It is too soon to 
say anything about such connections."

   Anadolu said police have also carried out raids on members of a suspected 
Uzbek IS cell in five Istanbul neighborhoods, and detained several people.

   Photographs from raids, widely published in the Turkish media, showed a 
bruised, black-haired man in a gray, bloodied shirt being held by his neck. NTV 
television said the gunman had resisted arrest.

   Turkish media also circulated a photograph of the Iraqi suspect lying on the 
floor facedown, hands bound behind his back with the boot of an unidentified 
man pressed to the back of his head.

   Speaking in Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation to 
apprehend the suspect was successful and thanked his country's security and 
intelligence agencies for their efforts.

   "In this country, no one will slip through the net, everyone will be held to 
account within the limits of the rule of law," he said.

   Turkey, a member of NATO and a partner in the U.S.-led coalition against IS, 
has endured multiple attacks attributed to the extremist group. IS said the 
assault on the nightclub was retaliation for Turkey's military operations in 
northern Syria.

   The country has also witnessed an uptick in violence linked to the 
resumption of conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish militants.


(KA)

 
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