Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for a New Year’s Day attack on an Istanbul nightclub that killed at least 39 people and left dozens others injured.
The jihadist group said on Monday that the attack was in retaliation for Turkey’s military operations against IS in neighboring Syria, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Turkish security forces have launched a manhunt after the deadly incident early Sunday, when a gunman opened fire with an assault rifle on revelers at an upscale nightclub.
After killing nearly 40 people and wounding several others, the attacker ditched his weapon and slipped away.
Authorities have released two photographs of the suspect, a young looking male clad in a puffy, black winter jacket.
After Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chaired a regular cabinet meeting Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said authorities have the suspect’s fingerprints and basic appearance and are close to identifying him.
He said eight other people were detained in connection with the attack, and were being questioned by the counterterrorism police.
Islamic State’s propaganda arm characterized the gunman as a “soldier of the caliphate” and attributed the group’s actions to Turkish airstrikes and artillery attacks it says have killed Muslims.
“It is natural for ISIS to claim this,” the Journal quoted a Turkish official as saying of Sunday’s attack.
But the official pointed to a discrepancy in the group’s statement, which said the attacker used grenades. Authorities said only a firearm was used.
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