Categorized | Turkey

Islamic State Group Claims Istanbul Attack as 8 Arrested

NOVANEWS
  • Relatives of Fatih Cakmak, a security guard and a victim of an attack by a gunman at Reina nightclub, react during his funeral in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 2, 2017.
    Relatives of Fatih Cakmak, a security guard and a victim of an attack by a gunman at Reina nightclub, react during his funeral in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 2, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
The group said the nightclub was a place where Christians celebrate their “apostate holiday,” while the attack was revenge for Turkey’s involvement in Syria.

The Islamic State group claimed Monday it was behind the New Year’s day mass shooting at an upscale Istanbul nightclub that killed at least 39 people, an attack carried out by a lone gunman who remains at large, though the government said so far eight people have been arrested.

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The terrorist group issued a declaration describing the Reina nightclub – where many foreigners, as well as Turks, were killed – as a gathering place for Christians celebrating their “apostate holiday.” The attack, it said, was revenge for Turkish military involvement in Syria.

“The apostate Turkish government should know that the blood of Muslims shed with airplanes and artillery fire will, with God’s permission, ignite a fire in their own land,” the group said in the statement delivered through one of its Telegram channels, a method used after attacks elsewhere.

The extremist group has been blamed for at least half a dozen attacks on civilian targets in Turkey over the past 18 months, but, other than targeted assassinations, this is the first time it has directly claimed any of them.

Meanwhile, the Turkish police distributed a hazy black-and-white photo of the alleged gunman taken from security footage. State broadcaster TRT said Monday that eight people had been detained in Istanbul.

The attacker may be from a Central Asian nation, according to authorities, Hurriyet newspaper reported, who also believed he may be from the same cell responsible for a gun-and-bomb attack on Istanbul’s main airport in June, in which 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

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NATO member Turkey is part of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group and launched an incursion into neighboring Syria in August to drive the radical Sunni militants from its borders, sending in tanks and special forces backed by fighter jets.

Over the past few years, Erdogan and his increasingly-authoritarian government have been getting the country involved in the Syrian conflict by funding several anti-government groups and sending troops into the country.

Ankara has also joined the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group in both Iraq and Syria. Also, in 2015, Erdogan ended two years of a cease-fire with the Marxist Kurdish militants known as the PKK and restarted a military campaign against them in Turkey’s southeast.

A month ago, a spokesman for the Islamic State group urged supporters to target “the secular, apostate Turkish government.”

The attack at Reina, popular with Turkish celebrities and wealthy visitors, shook Turkey as it tries to recover from a failed July coup and a series of deadly bombings in Istanbul and elsewhere, some blamed on the Islamic State group, others claimed by Kurdish militants.

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