Turkey says Istanbul suicide bomber identified as ISIS member

By REUTERS
March 20, 2016 14:37

Turkish interior minister names Mehmet Ozturk, born in 1992 in Gaziantep, as Saturday's suicide bomber.

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A man is helped by emergency services following a suicide bombing in Istanbul

A man is helped by emergency services following a suicide bombing in a major shopping and tourist district in central Istanbul. (photo credit: REUTERS)

ANKARA - Turkey has identified the suicide bomber behind Saturday's attack in Istanbul as a member of Islamic State born in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep, Interior Minister Efkan Ala said on Sunday.

"We have determined that Mehmet Ozturk, born in 1992 in Gaziantep, has carried out the heinous attack on Saturday in Istanbul. It has been established that he is a member of Daesh," Ala told a news conference broadcast live on television.

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Daesh is an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

Police were on high alert across Turkey on Sunday after the previous day's attack by a suicide bomber in Istanbul's most popular shopping district, killing three Israelis and an Iranian, with dozens more people wounded in the blast.

Israel confirmed that two of its three citizens killed in the blast held dual citizenship with the United States.

The attack on Istiklal Street, Istanbul's most popular shopping district, appeared similar to a January suicide bombing in another tourist area of Istanbul. In that attack, blamed by the government on Islamic State, a pedestrian suicide bomber blew himself up among a group of German tourists near the city's historic center.

Saturday's suicide bombing was the fourth such attack in Turkey this year, bringing the death toll to more than 80. Responsibility for the past two attacks, both suicide car bombings in the capital Ankara, was claimed by a PKK offshoot.


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