At least one of three suspected Islamic State suicide bombers who killed 42 people at Istanbul airport is thought to be a foreigner but investigators are struggling to identify them from their limited remains, officials said on Thursday.
Police detained 13 people, three of them foreigners, in raids across Istanbul in connection with Tuesday night’s gun and bomb attack on Europe’s third-busiest airport, the deadliest in a series of suicide bombings in Turkey this year.
Counter-terrorism teams led by police special forces launched simultaneous raids at 16 locations in the city, two officials told Reuters. Turkish authorities have said they believe Islamic State was behind the airport attack.
The pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper said the bombers were from Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Dagestan in southern Russia, without naming its sources. Dagestan borders Chechnya, where Moscow has led two wars against separatists and religious militants since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
“We’re looking into the possibility of foreigners being involved. It is likely that at least one of them is a foreigner, but the investigation is still underway,” one of the officials said, declining to be named or to comment further because details of the investigation have not yet been released.
The Kyrgyz security service declined to comment, while the Uzbek security service could not immediately be reached.
Three bombers opened fire to create panic outside the airport in Tuesday’s attack, before two of them got inside and blew themselves up. The third detonated his explosives at the entrance. A further 239 people were wounded.
A second Turkish official also said it was probable that at least one bomber was a foreign national but that the three had not yet been identified due to “extensive soft-tissue damage”.
“A medical team is working around the clock to conclude the identification process,” the official said.-Reuters