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Turkey says Istanbul suicide bomber has links to Islamic State

Turkey's interior minister says the suicide bomber who killed four people and injured dozens more in Istanbul has links to Islamic State.

The suicide bomber who killed four people and injured dozens more in Istanbul on Saturday has been linked to Islamic State, Turkey’s interior minister said on Sunday.

Efken Ala named the man as Mehmet Öztürk, born in 1992, and from the Gaziantep province in southern Turkey.

“The identity of terrorist who carried out this wretched suicide attack has been determined. This person, this terrorist is Mehmet Öztürk, born in 1992 and registered from the Gaziantep province. Current findings show that the terrorist has links to the Daesh terror organization.”
Interior Minister Efkan Ala

According to Doğan News Agency, Öztürk had no criminal record but was being sought as an IS suspect.

Doğan also says Öztürk’s identity was confirmed following DNA tests of samples taken from his relatives. Reuters, citing un-named sources, said police were questioning Öztürk’s father and brother and identified him by checking a DNA sample from the blast scene against one taken from his father.

Ala said five people had been questioned in connection with the attack and announced a review of security measures and curfews in seven Turkish provinces.

At least four people were killed and at least 36 people were injured in Saturday’s attack. Israel has confirmed that three of its citizens died in the explosion, Reuters reports. Two of them also held United States citizenship. An Iranian was also killed.

In January, Islamic State was blamed for two suspected suicide attacks in Istanbul. On January 12, a suicide attack in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district killed 12 German tourists. On January 6, a suicide attack at a police station also in the Sultanahmet district killed one police officer and injured another.

Newspaper claims

On Sunday, the Daily Sabah newspaper said police had focused their investigation on two suspects: Savaş Yıldız, one of four IS members wanted by Turkey; and Mehmet Öztürk, who the paper says appeared in surveillance camera footage of the attack.

On Saturday the Birgun newspaper claimed that Savaş Yıldız was the bomber, while the Karar newspaper claimed that Mehmet Öztürk was the person who perpetrated the attack. Karar claimed signals from Öztürk’s mobile phone were identified in the area of the bombing, and that police searched a building in Gaziantep believed to be used by him.

Also on Saturday, Hurriyet Daily News reported that authorities had taken blood samples from the father of Savaş Yıldız in the investigation into the Istanbul attack.

Yıldız is under investigation for his role in bomb attacks on buildings used by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Mersin and Adana in May 2015, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Image: Forensic experts inspect the area after a suicide bombing in central Istanbul/Reuters/Twitter.


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