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Turkish Court Formally Charges Nightclub Massacre Suspect

  • VOA News

Reina club attacker after being caught by Turkish police in Istanbul, Jan. 16, 2017.

A Turkish court has formally charged an Uzbek man with murdering 39 people and wounding scores of others in a New Year's Day shooting rampage at an Istanbul nightclub.

A court in Istanbul on Saturday charged Abdulgadir Masharipov with belonging to an armed terrorist group — Islamic State — possession of heavy weapons, attempting to destroy constitutional order and murder.

FILE - Flowers are placed in front of a police barrier near the entrance of Reina nightclub by the Bosphorus, which was attacked by a gunman, in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 1, 2017.
FILE - Flowers are placed in front of a police barrier near the entrance of Reina nightclub by the Bosphorus, which was attacked by a gunman, in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 1, 2017.

Masharipov fled from the scene of the shootings but was arrested 17 days later in Istanbul, after a nationwide manhunt. Authorities said he received terrorist training in Afghanistan and that he had confessed to the attack on the Reina nightclub in the early hours of January 1.

In a separate incident linked to the Islamic State group, the Anadolu news agency reported Saturday that a court in southern Turkey had charged two suspected IS terrorists with plotting to carry out a "sensational" attack in Europe.

Two men, identified by Turkey's state-run news agency, as Mahamad Laban, 45, right, and Mohammed Tofik Saleh, 38, walk to a police van outside a police station in Adana, Turkey, Feb. 11, 2017. The Anadolu news agency said that the arrested men were suspected of receiving Islamic State group weapons and explosives training in Syria for the past three months and of planning attacks in Europe.
Two men, identified by Turkey's state-run news agency, as Mahamad Laban, 45, right, and Mohammed Tofik Saleh, 38, walk to a police van outside a police station in Adana, Turkey, Feb. 11, 2017. The Anadolu news agency said that the arrested men were suspected of receiving Islamic State group weapons and explosives training in Syria for the past three months and of planning attacks in Europe.

Mahamad Laban, a Danish citizen of Lebanese origin, and Swedish citizen Mohammed Tofik Saleh were taken into custody earlier this month. They were said to have confessed after 10 days of interrogation.

Quoting an unnamed source, Anadolu said the suspects initially told police they were traveling from Europe to Syria to help provide humanitarian aid. However, police found that the two men had been trained in the use of explosives and firearms during the last three months.

Investigators were reported to have learned that the wife of suspect Saleh filed a legal complaint in Sweden in 2014, alleging that her husband had left for Syria to join other Islamic State extremists.

Also, in the southern city of Gaziantep, near Turkey's border with Syria, police arrested four Islamic State suspects Thursday who were thought to have been planning attacks inside Turkey. Authorities said they recovered suicide belts and explosives during the arrests.

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