The Latest: Raid at Istanbul apartment ends without arrests

AP News
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Posted: Jan 02, 2017 4:18 PM
The Latest: Raid at Istanbul apartment ends without arrests

ISTANBUL (AP) — The Latest on the Istanbul nightclub attack (all times local):

12:05 a.m.

Police have ended an operation in an Istanbul neighborhood that Turkish media reports had said was launched in connection to the Reina nightclub attack.

Haber Turk television and other media said special operations police, acting on a tip, conducted a raid on an apartment in the Zeytinburnu district late Monday.

Associated Press journalists at the scene witnessed police leaving the scene without making any arrests.

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10:55 p.m.

Turkish media reports say police have launched an operation in an Istanbul neighborhood in connection with the New Year's nightclub shooting attack that killed 39 people.

Haber Turk news channel said police, acting on a tip, were carrying out an operation at a home in Istanbul's Zeytinburnu neighborhood on Monday night.

The private Dogan news agency says the operation is being carried out by special operations police with backing from a helicopter.

The assailant slipped from the scene of the attack at the Reina club early Sunday, taking advantage of the chaos that ensued after he opened fire.

Earlier, Turkey's deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, said authorities were close to identifying the gunman after obtaining his fingerprints and a description of his appearance.

Newspaper reports said the attacker was thought to be from a Central Asian nation.

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This item has been corrected to show that the police operation commenced late Monday night, not Tuesday.

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10:15 p.m.

A jet carrying the bodies of three Lebanese citizens killed in the shooting at an Istanbul nightclub has landed in Beirut, with three others who were wounded aboard.

The jet arrived Monday night from Istanbul where 39 people died in the New Year Eve's attack.

The three coffins, covered with Lebanon's white, red and green flags, were taken to a hospital until funeral processions are held.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri and other government officials met the plane. Hariri later boarded the jet and shook hands with the two men and a woman who were wounded.

The forth wounded, Bushra El Douaihy, the daughter of parliament member Estephan El Douaihy, is still undergoing treatment in Turkey.

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7:30 p.m.

Turkey's deputy prime minister says authorities are monitoring hundreds of "provocative" social media accounts that allegedly support terrorism and foster divisiveness in society.

Numan Kurtulmus said Monday that 347 social media accounts which were determined to "sow seeds of enmity among the public" were under investigation, with legal action taken against 92 individuals.

Kurtulmus says authorities are working closely with social media providers such as Facebook and Twitter to shut down suspect accounts.

He says: "We are not going to sit by and watch as three to five social media trolls spread discord among the people."

Turkey has prosecuted several people, including prominent government critics for allegedly spreading terrorist propaganda through social media. One of them, journalist Ahmet Sik, was arrested last week.

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7 p.m.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus says authorities have obtained the fingerprints and a basic description of the gunman who attacked an Istanbul nightclub attack and are close to identifying him.

Speaking to reporters Monday after a weekly Cabinet meeting, Kurtulmus also confirmed that eight people had been detained in connection to the attack.

Kurtulmus said the attack in the early hours of 2017 was a message from extremist organizations that they intend to continue to be a "scourge" against Turkey in the new year. Kurtulmus also said it was intended as a response to Turkey's "successful and determined" military operation against the Islamic State group in northern Syria. Turkey had been rocked by a wave of violent attack in 2016.

Kurtulmus said Turkey was determined to continue fighting violent groups declaring: "Wherever they may hide in 2017, we will enter their lair... With the will of God, with the support of our people, with all our national capacity, we will bring them to their knees and give them all the necessary response."

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5:00 p.m.

Turkey's state-run news agency says a criminal complaint has been filed against people who used social media to praise the deadly New Year's attack at a nightclub in Istanbul, as well as against several people who demonized the New Year celebration or threatened attacks.

The Turkish Bar Association filed a criminal complaint with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's office on Monday, calling for the investigation and prosecution of those who praised the gun attack which killed 39 and injured dozens.

Some social media users praised the killings and condemned the night's celebration on religious grounds.

The complaint also called for prosecution of a school administrator who banned New Year's celebrations, those responsible for protests or banners depicting violence against Santa Claus, as well as a newspaper which published threatening headlines.

Prime Minister Binali Yilidirim sent a Twitter message on Sunday warning that legal action would be taken against those who praised terrorism.

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3:40 p.m.

Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry says it is looking into media reports that the gunman in the New Year's Eve night club attack in Istanbul could be from the Central Asian country.

"We have ordered the consul in Istanbul the check this report that has appeared in the press," ministry spokeswoman Aiymkan Kulukeyeva was quoted as saying Monday by the Interfax news agency. "According to preliminary information, this information is doubtful but we are checking all the same."

The Hurriyet and Karar newspapers on Monday cited unnamed security officials saying that authorities have determined that the gunman who killed 39 people comes from a Central Asian nation and is believed to be either from Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan.

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3:15 p.m.

Turkey's state-run news agency says police have detained eight people in connection with the Istanbul nightclub attack.

Anadolu Agency says that the eight have been taken into custody by Istanbul anti-terrorism squads and they are being questioned at Istanbul's main police headquarters.

The gunman, who escaped after carrying out the attack, wasn't among the eight.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 39 people, most of them foreigners.

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3 p.m.

The father of one of the victims of the deadly New Year's attack at a popular Istanbul nightclub has arrived from Belgium to collect his 23-year-old son's body.

Waiting outside the Forensic Medicine Institute, Ali Akyil told Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency that they were a Turkish family who loved their country, and so his son, Mehmet Kerim Akyil, had gone to Istanbul for his New Year's vacation.

Anadolu said that relatives were also waiting outside to collect 38-year-old Bulent Sirvan Osman's body and return him to Erbil, Iraq. A married father of two, Osman was in Istanbul for business.

Abdullah Ahmed Abbolos, a 32-year-old Palestinian who lived in Saudi Arabia, had come to Istanbul to celebrate the new year. An acquaintance told Anadolu his body would likely be taken to Saudi Arabia.

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2 p.m.

Germany's Foreign Ministry says two people who lived in Germany, one of them a German citizen, are believed to have died in the New Year's attack on an Istanbul nightclub.

Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer says that both resided in Bavaria. One was a German-Turkish dual citizen and the other is believed to have had only Turkish nationality.

Schaefer said that three German citizens were wounded in the attack. They are not in a life-threatening condition.

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1:30 p.m.

Relatives and Bollywood friends have converged at the Mumbai home of Abis Rizvi, one of the two Indian victims of the New Year's attack at a popular Istanbul nightclub.

They offered condolences to the bereaved family on Monday even as Rizvi's father left for Istanbul to bring back his son's body. The body is expected to reach Mumbai on Wednesday, according to Bollywood actor and friend Raza Murad.

Rizvi, a 49-year-old builder, wrote, produced and directed a Bollywood movie "Roar: The Tigers of Sunderbans," in 2014 aimed at spreading awareness about tigers.

The other Indian victim of the Istanbul attack that killed 39 people was Khushi Shah, a fashion designer from Vadodara, a city in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

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12:50 p.m.

Turkey's Interior Ministry says that dozens of people have been detained in the past week over suspected ties to the Islamic State group.

The ministry's announcement came after a gunman opened fire on New Year's revelers at an Istanbul nightclub, killing 39 people and wounded dozens of others. IS has claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement released Monday, the ministry said 147 people were detained after authorities determined "they were in contact with the Daesh terrorist organization," referring to an Arabic acronym for IS.

Of the detained, 25 people have been formally put under arrest.

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12:20 p.m.

Turkey's state news agency says 38 of the 39 victims of the New Year's attack on an Istanbul nightclub have been identified.

The Anadolu news agency, citing unidentified Turkish justice ministry officials, says 11 those killed by a gunman who escaped were Turkish nationals and one was a Turkish-Belgium dual citizen.

The report says seven victims were from Saudi Arabia; three were from Lebanon and Iraq each; two nationals were from Tunisia, India, Morocco and Jordan each. Kuwait, Canada, Israel, Syria and Russia each lost one citizen.

Sixty-nine people were also wounded. Anadolu says one victim remains unidentified.

Relatives of the victims and embassy personal were seen walking into an Istanbul morgue to claim the bodies of the deceased.

Turkish officials haven't released the names of those identified.

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12 p.m.

Turkey's state-run news agency says more than 100 Islamic State targets in Syria have been hit by Turkey and Russia in separate operations, a day after a deadly attack at a popular Istanbul nightclub during New Year's celebrations claimed by the group.

Citing the Turkish Chief of General Staff's office, Anadolu Agency said Turkish jets struck eight IS group targets while tanks and artillery fired upon 103 targets near Al Bab, killing 22 extremists while destroying many structures.

Anadolu added that Russian jets also attacked IS targets in Dayr Kak, eight kilometers (five miles) to the southwest of Al Bab.

Turkey sent troops into neighboring northern Syria in August to clear a border area of IS militants and curb territorial advances by Syrian Kurdish forces.

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11:45 a.m.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Istanbul shooting that killed 39 people and wounded scores of others.

The IS-linked Aamaq News Agency said the New Year's attack was carried by a "heroic soldier of the caliphate who attacked the most famous nightclub where Christians were celebrating their pagan feast."

It said the man opened fire from an automatic rifle in "revenge for God's religion and in response to the orders" of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The group described Turkey as "the servant of the cross."

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10:10 a.m.

Turkish media reports say that authorities believe that the Islamic State group is behind the attack on a popular Istanbul nightclub during New Year's celebrations.

Hurriyet and Karar newspaper reports Monday cited unnamed security officials saying that authorities have determined that the gunman who killed 39 people comes from a Central Asian nation and is believed to be either from Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan.

Police had also established similarities with the high-casualty attack at Ataturk Airport in June and was investigating whether the same IS cell carried out both attacks.

The gunman, who is still at large, killed a policeman and another man outside the Reina club in the early hours of 2017 before firing at people partying inside.

Nearly two-thirds of the dead were foreigners, many from the Middle East.