Turkey detains two foreigners over nightclub attack

The New Year shooting in a nightclub in Istanbul claimed 39 lives. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Istanbul, Turkey Jan 03, 2017, 04.19 PM (IST)

Turkey on Tuesday detained two foreign nationals at Istanbul's main airport for suspected links to a nightclub attack that killed 39 people on New Year, the country's Dogan news agency said.

The pair were reportedly detained as they entered the Ataturk International Airport and were taken to Istanbul police headquarters for questioning.

The government said Monday that eight people had been detained, but the number then increased to 14 after new detentions in the Anatolian city of Konya, where the suspect was believed to be staying in a rented flat before he moved to Istanbul to carry out the attack.

Those detained include a woman suspected of being his wife with whom he had stayed in Konya along with two children, Dogan news agency said.

The airport detentions bring the total number of arrests over the attack to 16. 

The suspect has not been named but is reportedly from Central Asia, AFP quoted media reports as saying. He remains on the run.

Kyrgyzstan is also investigating whether one of its citizens was involved in the Istanbul attack, the country's intelligence services told AFP.

A 28-year-old Kyrgyz national, Lakhe Machrapov, was detained and questioned on his return from Turkey, AFP reported. He denied any involvement, saying he was on business there.

Machrapov explainined that he arrived in Istanbul on January 1 "on business" before leaving on Tuesday after being briefly questioned by Turkish police due to his resemblance to a suspect in the killing.

The foreign ministry in Kyrgyzstan said it was "improbable" that one of its nationals was involved but said it was "checking anyway".

(WION with inputs from AFP)