Istanbul airport bombers were Russian, Uzbek, Kyrgyz: Turkish official

Three suspected Islamic State suicide bombers who killed 44 people in a gun and bomb attack at Istanbul's main airport this week were Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals, a Turkish government official said on June 30.

istanbul airport bombers were russian, uzbek, kyrgyz: turkish official hinh 0
Airport employees mourn for their friends, who were killed in June 28's attack at the airport, during a ceremony at the international departure terminal of Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey, June 30, 2016.
The attack on one of the world's busiest airports, a hub at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, was the deadliest in a series of suicide bombings in Turkey this year.

The three bombers opened fire to create panic outside, before two of them got inside the terminal building and blew themselves up. The third detonated his explosives at the entrance. A further 238 people were wounded.

The official gave no further details beyond confirming the attackers' nationalities and declined to be named because details of the investigation have not yet been released. Forensics teams had been struggling to identify the bombers from their limited remains, officials said earlier.

"A medical team is working around the clock to conclude the identification process," one of the officials said.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala told parliament that evidence continued to point to Islamic State responsibility and that 19 of the dead were foreigners. Ala said the identity and nationality of one of the bombers had been determined but did not comment further.

The pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper said the Russian bomber was from Dagestan, which borders Chechnya, where Moscow has led two wars against separatists and religious militants since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper named him as Osman Vadinov and said he had come from Raqqa, the heart of Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria. The Russian interior ministry said it was checking information about Vadinov.

A spokesman for Kyrgyzstan's state security service said it was investigating, while the Uzbek security service had no immediate comment.

Thousands of foreign fighters from scores of countries have crossed Turkey to join Islamic State in Syria and Iraq in recent years. Turkey has tightened security on the Syrian border but has long argued it needs more information from foreign intelligence agencies to intercept the fighters.

The revelation that one of the attackers was a Russian national comes at an awkward time for relations between Ankara and Moscow, strained since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border last November.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wrote to Russian leader Vladimir Putin this week to express regret over the incident, but officials in Ankara say he stopped short of making the apology Moscow wants before it will lift economic sanctions.

Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia's Security Council, sent a telegram to his Turkish counterpart calling for cooperation in fighting terrorism after the bombing, Russian news agencies reported.

Reuters

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