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Istanbul on edge after suicide attack blamed on IS

Update: March, 21/2016 - 12:10

ISTANBULTurkey on Sunday named the bomber behind a suicide attack in a busy Istanbul shopping and entertainment hub that killed four foreigners as a Turkish jihadist with links to the Islamic State group.

The attack on the famous Istiklal Caddesi street sent shockwaves through the city, where a derby between arch-rivals Galatasaray and Fenerbahce was postponed on Sunday after the authorities received information of what they called a "serious" threat.

Interior Minister Efken Ala identified the alleged perpetrator of the attack as Mehmet Ozturk from Gaziantep, on the border with Syria.

"The attacker has been formally identified. He is linked to the terrorist organisation Daesh (Islamic State)," Ala said.

Ozturk, who was born in 1992 and travelled to Syria between 2013 and 2015, had been sought by police over his alleged links to an IS cell in Turkey, Hurriyet newspaper reported.

Ala insisted however he was "not on our (police) wanted list," defending the government against accusations of repeated security failings following six bombings since July that have killed over 200 people.

On Saturday, three Israelis and one Iranian were killed when the bomber detonated his explosives. The bodies of the three Israelis were flown home Sunday for burial.

Most of those injured in the blast were foreigners.

Nineteen people were still being treated in hospital on Sunday, eight of them in critical condition, the health ministry said.

The interior minister said five people had been arrested on suspicion of links to the attack. Dogan agency reported that Ozturk’s father and brother were among those held. — AFP


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