Iakhe Mashrapov, from Kyrgyzstan, denies he is the suspect in the Istanbul nightclub attack. BuzzFeed News earlier reported, citing Turkish media, that he was a suspect. A passport photo of Mashrapov has also been removed from this post.
The man identified in Turkish media — and reported on by BuzzFeed News — as the suspect in the Istanbul nightclub attack has denied being behind the attack or even being in Turkey at the time of the attack.
The suspect was identified as 28-year-old Iakhe Mashrapov from Kyrgyzstan. He said he is home in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek.
Meanwhile, security offcials told the pro-givernment IHA news agency that man who shot dead 39 people on New Year's Eve came to Turkey with his family more than a month before the attack, suggesting weeks if not months of planning into one of the most shocking terrorist attacks in the country.
Turkish news agencies described the suspect, who has not yet been named, as a Kyrgyz national who remains at large. He reportedly came to Turkey from Kyrgyzstan with his wife and two children on Nov. 20, security officials told IHA.
He is believed to have arrived in Ankara before renting a house in the Turkish city of Konya, telling locals he was seeking work. He travelled to Istanbul on Dec. 29, IHA reported.
His wife told local media she learned of the attack from TV and had no idea if he had sympathies or ties with ISIS, IHA reported.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. The ISIS-linked Aamaq News Agency said the attacker was a “heroic soldier of the caliphate who attacked the most famous nightclub where Christians were celebrating their pagan feast.”
The jihadi groups's statement said the gunman opened fire with an automatic rifle in “revenge for God’s religion and in response to the orders” of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Police have launched an intensive manhunt for the suspect. On Monday, police said they had detained eight people in connection with attack but the gunman was not among them.
CCTV footage allegedly showing the suspect getting out of a cab after the massacre emerged on Turkish state media on Monday.
Another video released by Turkish media is a reported selfie of the suspected attacker strolling through a book fair at Taksim Square before the shootings.
Anti-terror expert Abdullah Ağar told Hurriyet Daily News the attacker appeared to have military training.
“The attacker is determined, faithful, practical, coldblooded, expert and knows how to get results,” Ağar said.
“He probably fired these bullets before in real clash zones. He had no hesitation in shooting at innocent people. He is absolutely a killer and he most probably shot at humans before.”
Alicia Melville-Smith is a homepage editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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Borzou Daragahi is a Middle East correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Istanbul.
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