Turkey names suspects planning attacks

The children of 60-year-old Simcha Damari mourning during her funeral in the southern Israeli city of Dimona yesterday. Mrs Damari was one of three Israelis killed in the suicide bombing in Istanbul on Saturday.
The children of 60-year-old Simcha Damari mourning during her funeral in the southern Israeli city of Dimona yesterday. Mrs Damari was one of three Israelis killed in the suicide bombing in Istanbul on Saturday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ISTANBUL • Turkish newspapers have carried front-page pictures of three more men believed to be planning suicide bomb attacks for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), after a suspected member of the radical militant group killed three Israelis and an Iranian in Istanbul.

Turkish media named them as Haci Ali Dumaz, Savas Yildiz and Yunus Durmaz - all Turkish nationals - who, according to police sources, are believed to be planning attacks in busy public spaces.

Yildiz was initially suspected of being the bomber who blew himself up on Saturday in Istanbul's famous Istiklal Caddesi, a 2km pedestrian shopping street in the heart of the European side of the city. The blast also injured 39 people, most of them foreign tourists. Four people were still listed in critical condition in hospital yesterday.

On Sunday, Interior Minister Efkan Ala identified the Istanbul bomber as Mehmet Ozturk, born in 1992 and from the southern province of Gaziantep near the Syrian border, adding that five other people had been detained so far in connection with the blast.

"All provincial police units have taken action to try to capture the three terrorists suspected of being Islamic State members planning sensational attacks," the state-run Anadolu news agency said, citing unnamed security sources and describing the suspects as part of an "active cell" in Turkey.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel is trying to determine whether its citizens were deliberately targeted. Eleven of the wounded were Israelis.

Turkey's Haberturk newspaper said police had been examining CCTV footage and that it appeared that the suicide bomber had followed the group of Israeli tourists for several kilometres from their hotel, then waited outside the restaurant where they ate breakfast before blowing himself up as they emerged.

In his first public appearance since the bombing, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey would not give in to militants.

"We will never surrender to the agenda of terror. We will defeat the terrorist organisations and the powers behind them by looking after the unity of our nation," he said.

It was the fourth suicide bombing in Turkey this year. Two in Istanbul have been blamed on ISIS, while two others in the capital Ankara have been claimed by Kurdish militants.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2016, with the headline 'Turkey names suspects planning attacks'. Print Edition | Subscribe