Hundreds of people had gathered at the swanky Reina nightclub to celebrate the New Year when the gunman shot a police officer and a civilian outside the club, then stormed the premises. Most of the dead in the attack were foreign nationals, from the Middle East.
According to Turkish media, the suspect identified as Abdulkadir Masharipov, an Uzbekistan national was captured in a special operations police raid on a house in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district, private NTV television reported, adding that he had been staying in the house belonging to a friend from Kyrgyzstan.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the nightclub massacre, saying the attack in the first hours of Jan. 1 was in reprisal for Turkish military operations in northern Syria. The man identified as the suspect had been on the run since the attack.
The first image of the bruised attacker showed him in a grey, bloodied shirt being held by his neck. Private NTV said he had resisted arrest. His Kyrgyz friend and three women from Somalia, Senegal and Egypt were also detained in the raid, while his 4-year-old child, who was with him at the home, was taken into protective custody. Hurriyet newspaper said the alleged gunman’s wife and 1-year old daughter were caught in a police operation on Jan. 12.
Police established his whereabouts four or five days ago, but delayed the raid so they could monitor his movements and contacts. The suspects were being taken to Istanbul’s main police headquarters for questioning.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu posted a Twitter message thanking the interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, police and intelligence organizations “who caught the Reina attacker in the name of the people."