Turkish Police Detain Central Asian Suspects Linked To Nightclub Gunman

Turkish police on January 18 rounded up 27 people mostly from Central Asia, who they said were linked to an Uzbek man suspected of killing 39 people at a New Year's party in an Istanbul nightclub.

The state news agency Anadolu said Turkish antiterrorism squads raided seven addresses in the northwestern city of Bursa, arresting 27 people mostly from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Some detainees were from China's minority Muslim Uyghur community and 15 were women, it said.

Anadolu said police took 29 children into protective custody and seized 15 mobile phones set up with fake identity cards at one house that was connected to a Tajik citizen who police said acted as a liason between the extremist group Islamic State (IS) and foreign nationals..

The Hurriyet newspaper reported that the suspected gunman, Abdulkadir Masharipov, confessed to police and told them he had initially been instructed by IS leaders in Raqqa, Syria, to target Istanbul's famed Taksim Square, but changed his target at the last minute to avoid heavy security around the square.

IS claimed responsibility the day after the attack on the exclusive Reina nightclub, and said it was revenge for Turkey's military involvement in Syria.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, Hurriyet, and Anadolu