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Trial begins in Turkey over IS attack on Istanbul airport

Members of the "Islamic State" (IS) alleged to have been involved in last year's Istanbul airport attack have gone on trial in Turkey. If convicted, they could face a combined record jail sentence.

Forty-six suspects accused of involvement in last year's terror attack on Istanbul's main airport went on trial on Monday.

The accused – nearly one-third Russian nationals – face charges of murder, attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and terrorism-related charges, among other offenses.

Read more: Terrorism in Turkey: threat from two sides

Watch video 02:19

Terror strikes Istanbul's main airport

What are the details of the attack?

  • Three gunmen strapped with suicide belts rampaged through Istanbul's Ataturk Airport in June last year before blowing themselves up, killing 45 people and injuring 163 others
  • Among the killed were 19 foreigners
  • No group claimed credit for the attack, but Turkish authorities said it was directed and organized by the "Islamic State" (IS)
  • Two of the three attackers were identified as Rakim Bulgarov and Vadim Osmanov, according to court documents. The third is not named. They are believed to be from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan
  • Subsequent investigations and raids led to dozens of arrests of suspected IS members who helped organize the attack
  • Among those accused of involvement are nationals of Russia, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Turkey
  • Four suspects are still on the loose. Chechens are also believed to have played a prominent role.

The alleged IS members face life sentences – up to a record 3,342 years - if convicted.

Crackdown on IS

Turkey has been hit by several IS attacks over the past two plus years, including one on a popular Istanbul nightclub on New Years this year that killed 39 people.

In October 2015, twin blasts on a rally in Ankara attended by labor activists and pro-Kurdish groups killed more than 100 people.

Another IS suicide bombing on pro-Kurdish activists in July 2015 killed 33 people in Suruc, near the Syrian border.

Turkish security forces have upped raids on IS members in recent months, arresting more than 200 suspects in the last week alone.

The heightened security response comes amid concern that IS fighters will seek haven in Turkey after fleeing the battlefield in Iraq and Syria after a string of defeats.

cw/rt (AFP, AP, dpa)

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