Istanbul, Jan 2: Turkish authorities believe the attacker who killed 39 people, including two Indians, at an Istanbul nightclub over the New Year is linked to Islamic State (IS) jihadists, the Hurriyet daily said. The report said Turkish police and intelligence had received information over the risk of a New Year's attack by IS in several Turkish cities and had carried out raids and arrests throughout December in response.
Without citing sources, it said that the attacker, who is still on the run, is believed to be linked to IS and may have been from Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan. Investigators also consider it possible that the attacker is linked to the same cell that carried out a triple suicide bombing in June and gun attack at Istanbul's Ataturk airport blamed on IS that left 47 dead, it added.
In a separate article also in Hurriyet, columnist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote that Turkey received intelligence from the United States on December 30 warning of the risk of attacks by IS in Istanbul and Ankara on New Year's night. However the intelligence did not specify the location of where such an attack could take place, the article added.
Turkish authorities have so far not said who was behind the attack on the Reina nightclub just after New Year struck. But they have launched a massive manhunt for the attacker, who is believed to have slipped away after changing his clothes.
The attack came as the Turkish army wages a four-month incursion in Syria to oust IS jihadists and Kurdish militants from the border area, suffering increasing casualties. Istanbul, Ankara and other Turkish cities were hit by a string of attacks in 2016 blamed on Kurdish militants and jihadists that left hundreds dead.