Jihadists blamed for Istanbul attack
by Sami Osman

Fearing further attacks, match between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe canceled. Celebrations for Nouruz, the Kurdish New Year, banned. Israel advises citizens not to go to Turkey. The bomber was a young Turkish man who fought for the Islamic State in Syria. Five other suspects arrested.


Ankara (AsiaNews) - The Turkish authorities have attributed the suicide bombing in Istanbul two days ago to the Islamic State (IS).  The attack killed four foreign tourists and injured 39 people. According to the latest Government reports three Israeli tourists, two of whom were American citizens, and an Iranian were killed in the attack. The wounded include 24 foreigners; 15 of them are still in hospital and four are in a very serious condition under intensive care.

Interior Minister, Efkan Wing, has identified the suicidal jihadist as Mehmet Ozturk, who had links to "Daesh [the Arabic acronym for IS]".

According to Turkish newspapers, the suicide bomber was born in 1992, was part of a Turkish IS cell and fought in Syria. Five other suspects were arrested in connection with the investigation, while the bomber’s father and brother, from Gaziantep in the south, have been placed under custody.

Turkey calls the IS a terrorist organization, but in recent years has allowed the flow of recruits, fuel and weapons across its borders to jihadist militias in Syria. For Ankara, the Kurds represent the greatest threat to the country followed closely by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

This has resulted in recent months with frequent Turkish air force bombings of PKK positions in Iraq.  The PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party, is considered a terrorist organization fighting for the independence of the Kurdish region in the southeast of the country.  Turkish bombers have also targeted YPG posts in Syria, a group of Kurdish fighters combatting the IS.

Since October last year, there have been four attacks, two in Istanbul, two in Ankara, causing hundreds of deaths. Two of these are attributed to IS, two to a radical Kurdish group, TAK, which has decided to revenge President Erdogan’s anti-Kurdish policies.

While internal tension is growing, for fear of further attacks, the government has banned celebrations of the Kurdish New Year, Nouruz, which begins today and yesterday just two hours before kick-off, called off  a football match between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe in Istanbul.