search

Turkey names IS-linked suicide bomber in Istanbul attack

DNA testing said to reveal Mehmet Öztürk was the terrorist who killed 4 people, 3 of them Israelis, on Saturday

A man leaves carnations at the site of a suicide bombing in Istanbul on Sunday, March 20, 2016, a day after the attack, which killed four, including three Israeli tourists (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
A man leaves carnations at the site of a suicide bombing in Istanbul on Sunday, March 20, 2016, a day after the attack, which killed four, including three Israeli tourists (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Turkish investigators on Sunday identified the bomber who blew himself up in the heart of Istanbul a day earlier, killing three Israelis and an Iranian, as a jihadi with ties to the radical Islamic State group.

Dogan news agency named the bomber as Mehmet Öztürk and said DNA samples had been taken from his relatives to obtain a match with him.

Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala confirmed that Öztürk was the bomber, telling reporters that five other suspects had been detained in the investigation.

Öztürk’s father and brother were detained in the wake of the attack, the news site Hurriyet reported. The father had recognized Öztürk, one of two men initially suspected in the attack — the other was named as Savaş Yıldız — in CCTV footage from the scene and informed the authorities.

Öztürk, who was reportedly on a list of Turkish nationals suspected of membership in the Islamic State, had recently returned to Turkey after a stint with IS in Syria. He was born in 1992 in Gaziantep province, which borders the country.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, which killed three Israelis and an Iranian. The attack came six days after a suicide car bombing at a busy square in the capital Ankara that killed 35 people and was claimed by Kurdish rebels.

The three Israeli victims, two of whom also held US citizenship, were part of a group that was on a gastronomic tour of Turkey, Israeli media said.

Their bodies were to be repatriated Sunday aboard an Israeli military jet, according to military sources. Five injured Israelis were flown home for treatment on Saturday night, Israel’s emergency services said, and five others were being flown back with the bodies of the victims on the following day.

Turkey has suffered six bombings since July that have killed more than 200 people around the country.

The only attack in Istanbul during that time, outside the Blue Mosque in January, had targeted a tourist quarter. That suicide bombing, which claimed the lives of 12 German tourists, was blamed on IS.

The bodies of three Israelis killed in a suicide bombing in Istanbul lie in caskets on the cargo ramp of an IDF airplane on Sunday, March 20, 2016 (Foreign Ministry)
The bodies of three Israelis killed in a suicide bombing in Istanbul lie in caskets on the cargo ramp of an IDF airplane on Sunday, March 20, 2016 (Foreign Ministry)

The jihadist group was also held responsible for Turkey’s worst ever attack, which killed 103 people in October at a rally in support of Kurds — arch-enemies of IS across the border in Syria.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed to track down those responsible, while NATO allies the US and Europe said they stood by Turkey.

“We will fight with determination and perseverance until all forms of terrorism are eradicated,” Davutoglu said Saturday.

Turks are reeling from the increased frequency of attacks that risk dealing a knockout blow to the country’s vital tourism trade.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed