Istanbul: Two suspected ISIS jihadists have been detained at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, the Dogan news agency reported, less than a week after it was hit by a triple suicide attack.
Dogan said the two suspects held late on Sunday were Kyrgyz nationals, identifying them only by their initials, K.V. and F.M.I., aged 25 and 35 respectively.
Police found night-vision binoculars and military-style clothes in their suitcases, the agency said, along with two passports in different names.
They were questioned by anti-terror police in Istanbul. It was not clear whether they had been leaving or arriving at the airport. Their detention came as 13 suspects, including three foreigners, were charged Sunday over the June 28 gun and suicide bomb assault at the airport that killed 45 people including 19 foreigners.
Officials believe the ISIS group was behind the attack, the worst in a series to hit Turkey’s biggest city this year. In total police have detained 29 people “including foreigners” in connection with the airport carnage, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Sunday.
Of more than 200 people injured, 49 are still in hospital including 17 in intensive care. Authorities believe the attackers were a Russian, an Uzbek and a Kyrgyz national.
State news agency Anadolu has named two of them as Rakim Bulgarov and Vadim Osmanov, without giving their nationalities. Central Asia’s former Soviet republics have been a major source of foreign jihadists travelling to fight with ISIS and other extremist groups in Iraq and Syria.
Turkish media have identified the strike’s organiser as Akhmed Chatayev, the Chechen leader of an ISIS cell in Istanbul who allegedly masterminded two other deadly attacks that killed tourists in the city.