World

Investigators ID 2 of 3 bombers in Istanbul airport attack, Turkish media say

Turkish media say authorities have determined the identities of two of three suicide bombers responsible for the Ataturk Airport attack that killed 44 people this week in Istanbul.

Death toll reaches 44 in wake of triple suicide blasts as police detain more suspects

Surveillance video made available by the Turkish Haberturk newspaper shows three people believed to be the suicide bombers walking through Istanbul's airport prior to Tuesday's deadly attack. Two suspects have been identified, according to Turkish media. (Haberturk/Associated Press)

Turkish media say authorities have determined the identities of two of three suicide bombers responsible for the Ataturk Airport attack that killed 44 people this week in Istanbul. 

The state-run Anadolu Agency reported Friday that the Bakirkoy Public Prosecutor's office had established the identity of two suspects. The investigation into the third suspect's identity is ongoing. 

The identity of one suspect was determined through a photocopy of his passport, which he submitted to a realtor in order to rent a house in Istanbul's Fatih district. In addition, a computer that had been destroyed was found in a trash bin near the apartment where the suicide bombers were staying. The police are trying to access the information on the computer. 

The private Dogan news agency says two of the suspects were Russian nationals. 

The suspects were named as Rakim Bulgarov and Vadim Osmanov by Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry, citing its consulate in Istanbul. It provided no other details. 

Their place is in hell.- Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish president

The names emerge amid unconfirmed reports the attack was masterminded by Chechen extremist Akhmed Chatayev. 

Turkish and Swedish media have identified Chatayev as the organizer, although Turkish authorities have not confirmed his involvement. 

A U.S. congressman — Republican Representative Michael McCaul, chair of the House committee on homeland security — on Friday also said Chatayev was behind the plot. 

McCaul, of Texas, told CNN that Chatayev's whereabouts are unclear, but he is known to have served as a top lieutenant in the war ministry of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

Unconfirmed reports allege Chechen extremist Akhmed Chatayev, seen here in video footage from 2012, organized the attack in Istanbul. (Rustavi2/Associated Press)

ISIS 'probably' to blame

Turkish authorities have blamed the attack on ISIS, though the group has not claimed credit.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday repeated that ISIS "most probably" was behind the attack, adding that its militants would end up "in hell."

Speaking in Istanbul following Friday prayers, Erdogan said the extremist group claims to carry out acts in the name of Islam, but said it has nothing to do with the religion.

"They have no connection to Islam. Their place is in hell," he said.

"These people were innocent; they were children, women, elderly … They embarked on a journey unaware, and came face to face with death. You have no such right," Erdogan said. 

More arrests

Meanwhile, Turkish police detained 11 foreigners suspected of being members of an ISIS cell in Istanbul linked to the bombers, broadcaster Haberturk said on its website on Friday.

The arrests in the dawn raid, by a counter-terror police squad in the Basaksehir district on the European side of the city, brought the number of people detained in the investigation to 24, it said.

A police spokesman could not confirm the report, which was also carried by other media.

Police officers stand guard at Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey, on Thursday, two days after the deadly attack. (Murad Sezer/Reuters)

Three suspected ISIS suicide bombers killed 44 people in a gun and bomb attack at Istanbul's main airport on Tuesday, the deadliest in a string of attacks in Turkey this year.

The suspected bombers were Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals, a Turkish government official said on Thursday.

Separately, security forces on Wednesday detained four Turkish citizens at the Oncupinar border gate in southeast Turkey on suspicion of membership in a terrorist group, the local governor's office said in a statement.

The four were attempting to return to Turkey from a conflict zone in Syria under ISIS control, it said. 

With files from The Associated Press

now