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Turkey’s foreign minister says nightclub gunman identified

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Wednesday announced that the gunman in an İstanbul nightclub attack on New Year’s Day has been identified as the manhunt continues.

However, the minister did not release the name of the assailant who perpetrated the attack for which the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility. On Wednesday, 20 people were detained in İzmir in connection to the nightclub attack. The detainees, who are accused of being sympathizers of ISIL, are reportedly from Syria and East Turkestan.

Fourteen other people were earlier detained in relation to the attack.

On Tuesday, following the release of new images and videos of the gunman who killed at least 39 people in the popular Reina nightclub, the police also detained his wife in Konya province.

The gunman reportedly came from Kyrgyzstan to İstanbul by plane on Nov. 20 with his wife and two children and rented an apartment in the Central Anatolian city of Konya.

Neighbors in Konya informed the police about the gunman’s family after the images appeared in the media, upon which the gunman’s wife was detained. She reportedly told police that she had no idea about her husband’s sympathies towards ISIL, let alone his connection to the terrorist group. The gunman’s wife has been brought to İstanbul from Konya, and police announced that the gunman’s fingerprints have also been found without revealing his name.

CNNTürk reported on Tuesday that the rifle used in the nightclub attack had not been used in any other previous attack.

Although eight people had been detained in the investigation into the massacre, none of them are reported to be the actual gunman.

“In continuation of the blessed operations that Islamic State is conducting against the protector of the cross, Turkey, a heroic soldier of the caliphate struck one of the most famous nightclubs where the Christians celebrate their apostate holiday,” the ISIL statement said as reported by Reuters.

Thirty-five victims of a massacre carried out by a lone gunman in the early hours of Sunday have been identified, with 24 of them being foreign nationals and 11 Turkish citizens, DHA has reported.

At slightly after 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day, a man wielding a Kalashnikov rifle killed a policeman and a civilian outside the entrance to the popular Reina nightclub and blazed his way into the club, randomly shooting at some of the hundreds of revelers bringing in the New Year.

Of the 25 male and 14 female victims of the slaughter, seven were Saudi Arabian, two Indian, one from Canada, one from Syria, one from Israel, two Tunisians, four Iraqis, one Lebanese and one from Belgium. Eleven were Turkish citizens.

The Institute of Forensic Medicine (ATK) is working to identify the remaining four foreigners killed in the rampage.

Pro-government circles in Turkey continue to blame the US for the attack due to previous security warnings.

On Dec. 22 the US Embassy in Ankara had issued a security warning. Following the attack on New Year’s Day, the owner of the Reina, Mehmet Koçarslan, said, based on what he read in the media as he later clarified, the US had warned of a possible attack 10 days prior to the New Year, in reference to a general US security warning.

In a new statement released on Sunday, the US Embassy in Ankara said that ‎contrary to rumors circulating on social media, the US government had no information about threats to specific entertainment venues, including the Reina Club, and that ‎the US government did not warn Americans to stay away from specific venues or neighborhoods.

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