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Turkey arrests two Chinese nationals over Istanbul nightclub massacre

The gunman behind the Reina nightclub massacre is still at large [AFP]

Date of publication: 14 January, 2017

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Two Chinese men of Uighur origin have been arrested over the mass shooting at Reina nightclub in Istanbul on New Year's Eve, which left 39 people dead.
Turkey has arrested two Chinese nationals of Uighur origin in connection with a mass shooting in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year's Eve claimed by the Islamic State group, media reports said.

The suspects, named as Omar Asim and Abuliezi Abuduhamiti, were arrested on charges of "being members of a terrorist organisation", of "purchasing unlicensed firearms" and "being accomplices to the murder of 39 people", state-run Anadolu Agency cited a prosecutor as saying.

A witness in the central Anatolian city of Konya had reportedly seen Asim with the Reina nightclub attacker.

The gunman remains at large despite a massive manhunt.

Officials said last week the attacker was likely a Turkic Uighur, with authorities reportedly looking into the possible existence of a cell, including other extremists from Central Asia.

Uighurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims from the restive Xinjiang region of far-western China. 

The killer, reportedly known by the code name Ebu Muhammed Horasani, slipped into the night after killing 39 revellers at the Reina nightclub just 75 minutes into 2017.

At least 35 people have been detained so far in connection with the attack, according to Anadolu.

Of the 39 killed in the glamourous nightclub on the shores of the Bosphorus, 27 were foreigners including citizens from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Morocco.

The so-called Islamic State claimed the nightclub massacre, the first time it has ever clearly claimed a major attack in Turkey despite being blamed for several strikes including the Istanbul airport bombings.

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