Police have arrested the man accused of an attack on a posh Istanbul nightclub during New Year's celebrations, Turkey's premier said. The so-called "Islamic State" claimed the assault that killed 39 people.
Turkish police apprehended the suspect behind the mass shooting of 39 people at the popular Reina nightclub in Istanbul, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said at a press briefing Tuesday.
Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said the Uzbek national confessed to committing the attack, adding that he entered the country illegally.
"He was trained in Afghanistan and can speak four languages. He's a well-trained terrorist," Sahin said.
Authorities have been searching for Abdulgadir Masharipov, code named Abu Muhammed Horasani, for more than two weeks, after he fled the scene of the attack.
"Haber Turk" reported Masharipov was captured in a security operation in the district of Esenyurt, located on the outskirts of Istanbul near the city's main Ataturk airport.
Masharipov had $197,000 (185,000 euros), two weapons and clips in his possession when they raided his apartment, police said.
The manhunt raised questions about whether Masharipov was still in Turkey or had fled the country.
Pictures of the captured suspect on Turkish media showed his face badly bruised and bleeding. The suspect was taken to police headquarters for questioning and underwent a medical exam, Turkish media reported.
In addition to Masharipov, four other people - including one male Kyrgyz national - were taken into custody. Authorities said the apartment belonged to the Kyrgyz national. The three others arrested were women from Senegal, Egypt and Somalia.
The suspected attacker's four-year-old child was also taken into protective custody. Masharipov's wife and toddler were previously taken into custody.
Monday night's raid on the apartment was part of simultaneous operations against other suspected terror cells in which "a large number" of people were arrested, Anatolia reported.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Twitter thanked police and intelligence services for capturing the Reina club attacker.
The "Islamic State" (IS) group claimed credit for the Reina attack, which killed 39 people, including 27 foreign tourists. IS said it carried out the attack in retaliation for Turkey's intervention in Syria to fight the group.
At the beginning of the investigation, there had been conflicting reports about Masharipov's nationality. Turkish media reported him as a native of Uzbekistan, but other reports said he was an ethnic Uyghur Muslim from China's far western region of Xinjiang or possibly from Kyrgyzstan.
Nearly 40 people have been arrested in connection with the attack, believed to be part of a larger Central Asian network of jihadists tied to IS.
IS has been behind a number of terror attacks in Turkey over the past two years, including one last June on Ataturk airport that killed more than 45 people. A Caucasian and Central Asian IS cell was believed to be behind that attack.
ls, cw/gsw (Reuters, dpa, AP)