Istanbul airport attack: Turkey says bombers were from Russia and central Asia

10 days ago

Announcement follows dawn raids on suspected Isis cells in Istanbul, where 16 people were detained, and Izmir

Three foreign nationals a Russian, an Uzbek and a Kyrgyz carried out the shooting and triple suicide bombing at Atatrk airport in Istanbul, Turkish officials have said, but questions remain over security shortcomings that allowed the attackers to breach several control points and kill 43 people.

The announcement, made to western and Turkish news bureaux, came as Turkish police carried out raids against suspected Islamic State cells in Istanbul and the Aegean coastal city of Izmir, arresting a further three foreign nationals.

Turkish authorities, including the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoan, believe Isis was responsible for the attack on Europes third-busiest airport on Tuesday evening, the deadliest in a string of killings and detonations that have shaken the country this year. There has been no assert of responsibility.

Turkish police have identified one of the attackers as Osman Vadinov, a Chechen from Dagestan who reportedly entered Turkey on his Russian passport about a month ago.

One of the suicide bomber at Istanbul Ataturk International Airport on the security cameras. Photo: Depo Photos/ REX/ Shutterstock

Police said he had entered Turkey from Raqqa, the Isis stronghold in Syria, at least once before in 2015 and is suspected to have had links to jihadi cells inside Turkey.

The pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper claimed that the man suspected of being the organiser of the two attacks was an Isis commander of Chechen origin called Akhmed Chatayev, described by the US Treasury Department as the commander of the Yarmouk Battalion, a Chechen faction of[ Isis ].

Chatayev is said to be responsible for the recruiting and training of Russian-speaking Isis militants and was added to the US governments listing of specially designated global terrorists in 2015. He is wanted by the Russian government.

The Turkish authorities have not had reaffirmed that Chatayev is part of the ongoing investigation into the triple suicide bombing.

During dawn raids on Thursday in 16 different locations in Istanbul, security forces incarcerated 16 people, including three foreigners, Turkish media reported. Late on Wednesday, police carried out a sweep of the flat the three attackers had rented out in the central Aksaray district of Istanbul, securing digital data and documents linked to the criminal organisation.

Police sources quoted in the Turkish media said the attackers had taken a taxi at 8.45 pm local period from Aksaray to Atatrk airport. The driver described the attackers as pacify and not at all stressed.

The assault on Atatrk airport, which reopened on Thursday, has also created serious questions about security shortcomings in Turkey and the activity of Isis cells.

Atatrk airport attack

Private security personnels guarding the entryway and exit doors of the international departure terminal at the time of the attack said the attackers caught police officers inside the building off guard.

The attackers had chosen the hour just after iftar[ the evening dinner at the end of each days Ramadan fast ], so they were all catch unawares, one security guard who wished to remain anonymous said.

Many of the policemen were concealing when the shooter stimulated his way across the departure hall towards the VIP lounge.

His colleague added. What kind of safety is this? I dont feel safe here. In Brussels they closed down the airport for several days after the two attacks. Here they reopened immediately, as if nothing has happened. Its all about profit for them. Nobody cares about the security.

While it was one of the deadliest attacks so far, the Atatrk airport assault was by far not the only one in a little over a year, 17 similar assaults all over the country have claimed nearly 300 lives, and the government is under increasing pressure.

Speaking after the attacks, the Turkish prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said there had been no security flaws at the airport on Tuesday, a comment which drew the ire of opponent politicians and commentators.

Some critics have said the coordination between the various police departments and the National Intelligence Agency( MIT) was still insufficient, pointing to the fact that MIT had advised about a possible suicide bomb attack only weeks before the assault.

Nihat Ali zcan, a counterterrorism expert, said that while there were things to be improved , no country could hope for absolute security.

No country is solely safe from such terrorist attacks, he said. Turkey is most certainly at a geographical disadvantage and Isis has managed to establish a network here and rally recruits to its cause. We are facing a massive security challenge.

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