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Turkish nightclub attack suspect found in apartment with his son

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Istanbul nightclub attack suspect captured by Turkish police

ISTANBUL: Turkish police were yesterday questioning the suspected jihadist who slaughtered 39 people on New Year's night at an Istanbul nightclub, after capturing him in a raid in a residential area of the city.

The alleged assailant, Abdulgadir Masharipov, was found along with his four-year-old son in an apartment in the Esenyurt district after a massive police operation, state-run TRT television reported.

Four other suspects were detained, including three women, while the boy was placed under protection.

The suspect had been on the run for 17 days, following the Reina nightclub attack.

Reports had previously suggested he never left the Turkish metropolis, despite a tightening of borders to stop him from escaping, triggering fears that a dangerous killer was on the loose in the city.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group took responsibility for the bloodbath, the first time it has ever openly claimed a major attack in Turkey.

Masharipov was caught in an operation carried out by police and Turkey's spy agency, MIT. A 1,000-strong police squad was set up to ensure his arrest.

Turkish media published a picture of the detained man with blood on his face and T-shirt, his neck gripped by a policeman.

Television images showed him being roughly led away, his head bent low. He was given an obligatory health check before being taken to the police headquarters for questioning.

Images of the suspected attacker released by police during the manhunt were taken from a chilling silent video he purportedly took on Istanbul's Taksim Square with a selfie stick before carrying out the carnage.

Reports on Jan 8 said the authorities had identified him as a 34-year-old Uzbek, who was part of a Central Asian ISIS cell.

Masharipov was staying in an apartment rented by a Kyrgyz, who was also detained, TRT reported.

The three women detained were from Egypt, Senegal and Somalia.

Capturing the suspect alive will be seen as a major victory for the Turkish security forces and Masharipovmay be able to shed light on the existence of other ISIS cells in the city.

NTV television said the attacker was captured at a quarter past midnight. The police had spotted his location three days earlier but preferred to track him to identify his contacts.

Turkish media reports had said that the suspect was a well-trained killer, who had fought for ISIS in Syria and had gained weapons expertise there.