The gunman suspected of killing 39 people in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year's Day has been caught by police in the city's Esenyurt district, the Hurriyet newspaper website and other media reports said on Tuesday.
The man, who media quoted police as saying had operated under the cover name Abu Muhammed Horasani, was caught in a hideout with his four-year-old son, Hurriyet said. The reports could not immediately be confirmed.
Dozens of people have previously been detained in connection with the attack for which Islamic State has claimed responsibility, saying it was revenge for Turkish military involvement in Syria.
On Jan. 1, the attacker shot his way into the Reina nightclub then opened fire with an automatic rifle, reloading his weapon half a dozen times and shooting the wounded as they lay on the ground. Turks as well as visitors from several Arab nations, India and Canada were among those killed in the attack.
Horasani was described as being of Uzbek origin by the Haberturk website, which said he was caught at a housing complex in Esenyurt district, on the European side of the city. There were three people in the apartment where he was caught, the home of a Kyrgyz friend of his to which he had gone three days earlier, Haberturk said.
According to state-run Anadolu news agency, five people were detained in the operation, including the alleged perpetrator, a man of Kyrgyz origin and three women. It said simultaneous raids were being conducted on other cells linked to the group.
The shooting in Istanbul's Ortakoy neighbourhood, an upscale district on the Bosphorus shore, came after a year in which NATO member Turkey was shaken by a series of attacks by radical Islamist and Kurdish militants and by a failed coup.
One security source said in the wake of the attack that the gunman appeared to have been well-versed in guerrilla warfare and may have trained in Syria. President Tayyip Erdogan has said the attack, which targeted a club popular with local celebrities and moneyed foreigners, had been being exploited to try to divide the largely Sunni Muslim nation.
|© REUTERS/Umit Bektas Flowers are placed near the entrance of Reina nightclub by the Bosphorus, which was attacked by a gunman, in Istanbul|
Istanbul police arrest suspect, 4 others in Reina nightclub shooting
Police in Istanbul have arrested the man suspected of plotting the deadly New Year's Eve attack on the Reina nightclub along with four others, according to Turkish news agency Anadolu.
The suspect, who has not been named, was arrested late Monday, Andalou reported, citing security sources. A man of Kyrgyz origin and three women were taken into custody with the accused attacker, Anadolu and Turkish media reported.
The attack left 39 people dead and dozens more injured after a gunman opened fire in the early morning hours of New Year's Day.
The arrests took place during a police operation in Istanbul's Esenyurt district, the sources told Andalou, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
An intense manhunt had been underway for the suspect.
The nightclub was a glittering waterside venue frequented by Turkey's wealthy secular millennials and international celebrities. Ortakoy, where Reina is located, is a vibrant seaside neighborhood that caters to a wide range of people, from the uber-rich who party at clubs like Reina to students who buy stuffed baked potatoes from vendors along the Bosphorus shore.
Around 1:15 a.m. on New Year's Day, the gunman shot and killed a police officer who was guarding the front gate, then rushed inside, spraying gunfire. Revelers jumped into the freezing waters of the Bosphorus to escape the chaos.
The nightclub's owner, Memet Korcarslan, told CNN he felt "an immense wave of relief rush through me" upon hearing the news.
"I think a huge weight has been lifted off the shoulders of all the victims and their families just knowing that this man is no longer walking free," he said.
"The Turkish police and Turkish intelligence have carried out a very successful operation by catching him alive. I hope they will find anyone else who was involved with this heinous attack."
Istanbul nightclub attack suspect who killed 39 arrested: reports
After a massive manhunt, police have arrested the suspected attacker who killed 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub on New Year's Eve, according to local Turkish reports.
Authorities have not officially released the suspect's name as of late Monday, but local media identified the gunman as Abdulkadir Masharipov, an Uzbek national.
The suspect was caught during a police raid in a housing complex in Istanbul's Esenyurt district. He was reportedly staying with a friend while in hiding, local media reported.
Other Turkish media reports that Masharipov would undergo medical evaluations before he is taken to police headquarter for questioning.
Private Turkish television station NTV reported that the gunman's friend and three others were also arrested. His 4-year-old child was present and taken into protective custody.
Police knew about the suspect's whereabouts for about five days, but chose to delay the raid as they gathered more information, the station reported.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack at Reina club — a hotspot for celebrities — and said it was in response to Turkish military occupation in northern Syria.
Surveillance footage showed the shooter, clad in black, before opening fire at Reina club where an additional 70 people were injured.
Witnesses say the attacker screamed “Allahu akbar!” — “God is great” in Arabic — during the massacre.
Authorities say at least 26 of the victims were foreign nationals and among those injured was an American.