Turkish officials have detained two suspected “Islamic State” (IS) jihadists linked to the June 28 attacks on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. With the detention of two Kyrgyz nationals, the total arrests have risen to 29.
The Turkish Dogan news agency said the IS suspects were detained at Ataturk Airport, which was the site of last week’s triple suicide bombings that killed 45 people, including 19 foreigners.
The Turkish authorities believe that militant group IS, which is active in Syria and Iraq, had carried out the attacks.
The security officials have not revealed details about suspects K.V. and F.M.I., but said they were aged 25 and 35 respectively.
The pair was carrying night-vision binoculars and military-style uniforms in their bags, according to the Dogan news agency. They also had two passports issued under different names in their suitcases.
On Sunday, police charged 14 suspects, including three foreigners, over the June 28 bombings. In total, the security forces have arrested 29 people so far in connection with the attacks.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Monday that police were on high alert and had boosted their presence at Istanbul’s airports and metro and railway stations.
The Russian connection
Turkish officials said the three airport attackers came from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
On Saturday, a US Congressman said the Chechen Akhmed Chatayev was suspected of having planned the attacks. Chatayev had been arrested multiple times in Europe and was granted asylum in Austria.
Despite deteriorating relations between Ankara and Moscow, the Turkish government has hinted it would seek Russia’s cooperation in combating IS.
The ties between Ankara and Moscow have been tense since last year’s shooting down of a Russian warplane by Turkey. But last week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed regret over the incident.
On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu suggested in an interview with state television that his country would “cooperate with everyone who fights IS.”
“We will cooperate with Russia in the period ahead in the fight against Daesh,” Cavusoglu said, referring to the Arabic acronym for IS.
shs/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)