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Istanbul airport attacks: what we know

Ambulances and police intervening next to injured people lying on the ground, after two explosions followed by gunfire hit the Turkey's biggest airport of Ataturk in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016. 
At least 10 people were killed on June 28, 2016 evening in a suicide attack at the international terminal of Istanbul's Ataturk airport, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said. Turkey has been hit by a string of deadly attacks in the past year, blamed on both Kurdish rebels and the Islamic State jihadist group. / AFP PHOTO / ILHAS NEWS AGENCY / - / Turkey OUT
Ambulances and police intervening next to injured people lying on the ground, after two explosions followed by gunfire hit the Turkey's biggest airport of Ataturk in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016. At least 10 people were killed on June 28, 2016 evening in a suicide attack at the international terminal of Istanbul's Ataturk airport, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said. Turkey has been hit by a string of deadly attacks in the past year, blamed on both Kurdish rebels and the Islamic State jihadist group. / AFP PHOTO / ILHAS NEWS AGENCY / - / Turkey OUT

Istanbul: Details are emerging about the three suicide attackers who carried out this week’s gun and bomb attack at Istanbul’s main international airport and how they carried out the attack.

Here’s what we know so far:

Was this an Islamic State attack?There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but Turkish officials say early evidence points to a strike by the Islamic State group.

The director of the CIA, John Brennan, also said the suicide assault bore the “hallmark” of the jihadist group.

IS, normally quick to claim responsibility for its bloody attacks worldwide, has always been discreet when it comes to Turkey.

“It’s unclear why IS doesn’t claim credit, but it appears to be part of a broader strategy to exacerbate internal Turkish tensions, ranging from political polarisation to the Kurdish-Turkish conflict,” says Aron Stein of the Atlantic Council.

Who were the suicide bombers?State-run news agency Anadolu, citing a prosecution source, has named two of the attackers as Rakim Bulgarov and Vadim Osmanov, without giving their nationalities.

Officials had previously said the three bombers were a Russian, an Uzbek and a Kyrgyz national.

Central Asia’s former Soviet republics are among the main countries of origin for foreign jihadists who have gone to fight in Iraq and Syria.

Up to 7,000 people have left Russia and the former Soviet republics to fight for IS, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in October.

Who’s been arrested?Istanbul police have detained 24 people — including 15 foreigners — in connection with the attack in a string of raids since Thursday, according to state-run news agency Anadolu.

Nine other suspected jihadists were detained in the western port city of Izmir, but officials declined to confirm a link with the bloodshed in Istanbul.

How was the attack planned?Turkish media are naming the organiser of the carnage as Akhmet Chatayev, the Chechen leader of an IS cell in Istanbul. He reportedly found accommodation for the bombers.

He is believed to have organised two other bombings that killed foreigners this year — in the Sultanahmet tourist district and the busy Istiklal shopping street.

Michael McCaul, chairman of the US House Committee on Homeland Security, described Chatayev as “probably the number one enemy in the Northern Caucus region of Russia”.

“He’s travelled to Syria on many occasions and became one of the top lieutenants for the minister of war for ISIS operations,” McCaul told CNN.

Among the Istanbul addresses raided by police is an apartment in the Fatih district where the bombers built their bombs, paying 24,000 Turkish lira ($8,300, 7,500 euros) in advance for a year’s rent.

An upstairs neighbour said she never saw the tenants but reported a “weird, chemical smell” to local officials.

Agence France-Presse

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