Police on Thursday conducted simultaneous raids on 16 locations in Istanbul, rounding up 13 people suspected of involvement in a devastating attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in which the Islamic State group is the prime suspect.
A senior Turkish official said the three suicide attackers who carried out the deadly attack on Istanbul’s main airport were nationals of Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
The official could not confirm Turkish media reports that the Russian national was from the restive Daghestan region.
The official said “extensive soft-tissue” damage had complicated efforts to identify the attackers. “A medical team is working around the clock to conclude the identification process,” he told journalists.
The official spoke on condition of anonynity in line with government regulations
Tuesday’s gunfire and suicide bombing attack at the airport killed 42 people and wounded more than 230 others. The dead included 13 foreign nationals of whom three were dual nationals. Thursday marked a second day of funerals and mourning.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said the police raids were carried out in Istanbul’s Pendik, Basaksehir and Sultanbeyli neighborhoods, which span the city’s Asian and European sides.
Authorities say all information suggests that the attack on one of the world’s busiest airports was the work of the Islamic State group.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility by the militant group, which used Turkey as a crossing point to establish itself in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Islamic State this week boasted to have cells in Turkey, among other countries.
In separate large-scale police operations, nine suspects believed to be linked to the group were also detained in the coastal city of Izmir. It was not clear if the suspects had any links to the carnage at the airport.
The Izmir raids unfolded simultaneously in theKonak, Bucak, Karabaglar and Bornova area, according to the Anadolu Agency. Police seized three hunting rifles and documents relating to Islamic State.
The report said the suspects were in contact with Islamic State militants in Syria and were engaged in “activities that were in line with the organization’s aims and interests,” including providing financial sources, recruits and logistical support.
Days before the Istanbul attack, on June 25, security forces killed two suspected Islamic State militants who were trying to cross the border illegally and ignored orders from security forces to stop, according to local media reports.
One of the two militants was wanted by Turkey on suspicion that he would carry out suicide attacks in the capital, Ankara, or in the southern city of Adana, Anadolu said.
Turkey shares long, porous borders with Syria and Iraq, where Islamic State controls large pockets of territory. The government has blamed the group for several major bombings over the last year, including in the capital and on tourists in Istanbul.