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Turkish Official Says Istanbul Attacker Is Probably Uyghur

Mourners pray after laying wreaths near the site of the Reina nightclub massacre in Istanbul, which left 39 people dead.

The gunman behind the New Year’s Day massacre at an Istanbul nightclub is likely an ethnic Uyghur, a senior Turkish official says.

Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said on January 5 that the gunman, who remains at large, was probably Uyghur but he could not say for sure.

Kaynak also said Turkish authorities had established the gunman’s possible location and links.

Uyghurs are a mainly Muslim, Turkic-speaking minority in western China with significant diaspora communities across Central Asia and Turkey.

Kaynak's remarks come as police carried out raids in and around Istanbul on January 5 and detained several people who are suspected of being linked with the massacre.

State-run news agency Anadolu reported that those detained were Uyghurs.

The gunman burst into Istanbul's waterfront Reina nightclub with an automatic weapon and began shooting partygoers early on January 1, killing 39 people.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Turkey's foreign minister said on January 4 that authorities had identified the suspected gunman, without providing further details.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP