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Ankara Identifies Reina Attacker | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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People waved Turkish flags on Tuesday as they marched to protest against the New Year’s attack in Istanbul. Photo: Emrah Gurel/Associated Press

Ankara- Turkish authorities have expanded the security campaign in the ongoing investigation over the armed attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul that killed 39 people and injured 65 others.

Reliable media sources reported that investigation agencies are chasing “a new Asian” man identified as “Abu Mohammed Khorasan.”

The sources said the terrorist is moving freely, relying on huge support from an ISIS-related network.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu said in an interview that the attacker had been identified. Yet the Turkish authorities have not announced the name of New Year’s Day gunmen.

Turkish authorities said it is highly likely that the perpetrator is a member of ISIS in Syria, where he received training on using weapons, reported Turkish media.

Investigators stated it is possible that he is linked to the cell responsible for the three simultaneous suicide attacks at Ataturk Airport.

In the same context, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “There is no point trying to blame the attack in Istanbul on differences in lifestyles.”

Erdogan was addressing local administrators at the presidential palace in Ankara.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu announced on Tuesday that “Turkish security forces prevented a total of 339 major terror incidents during 2016.”

He added that “313 of those [incidents] were planned by Kurdish armed groups, 22 by ISIS, and four by radical leftist groups.”

Moreover, “247 improvised explosives and 61 booby-trapped vehicles were seized and 23 suspected suicide bombers were caught along with 42 terrorist group members plotting an attack. In the past three months only, 80 significant incidents were prevented.”

He added that Turkey would continue its anti-ISIS fight with all groups until the group is defeated.

In a related matter, Turkey extended the state of emergency for more than three months starting January 19.