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Seventeen Jailed Pending Trial over Istanbul Airport Attack | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Paramedics help casualties outside Turkey’s largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, Turkey, following a blast, June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Coskun/IHLAS News Agency.

Turkey jailed 17 suspects on Tuesday, mostly foreigners, over last week’s suicide bombing at Istanbul’s main airport, the deadliest of several attacks to strike Turkey’s biggest city this year.

President Tayyip Erdogan described the attack as the work of ISIS militants from the ex-Soviet Union.

The arrests bring the total number of people jailed pending trial to 30 over the triple suicide bombing at Ataturk Airport, which killed 45 people and wounded hundreds.

It was followed by major attacks in Bangladesh, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in the past week, all apparently timed for the run-up to Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Ramadan holy fasting month.

“The incident is of course completely within the framework of Daesh, a process conducted with their methods,” Erdogan told reporters after praying at an Istanbul mosque at the start of the holiday. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for ISIS terrorist organization.

Three bombers opened fire to create panic outside the airport before two of them got inside and blew themselves up. The third militant detonated his explosives outside at the entrance to the international arrivals terminal.

“There are people from Dagestan, from Kyrgyzstan, from Tajikistan,” Erdogan said, referring to a mainly Muslim province of Russia’s North Caucasus region, and two former Soviet states in Central Asia. “Unfortunately, people from neighboring northern Caucasus countries are involved in this business.”

The 17 remanded in custody early on Tuesday included 11 foreigners. All were accused of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”, the private Dogan news agency said. Thirteen others were jailed on Sunday, including three foreigners.

The state-run Andolu news agency said last week that two of the bombers were Russian nationals. One government official has said the attackers were Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals.

Moscow says that thousands of Russian citizens and citizens of other former Soviet states have joined ISIS, travelling through Turkey to reach Syria. Russia fought two wars against Chechen separatists in the North Causcasus in the 1990s, and more recently has fought Islamist insurgents in Dagestan.

Russia and Turkey have been at odds over Moscow’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey’s backing of rebels opposed to him, especially since last year when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the border.

But recent weeks have seen a thaw in relations between the two countries, with both citing a need to bury their differences to fight the common ISIS foe.