Turkish police capture suspected New Year's nightclub attacker in Istanbul

By Daren Butler

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police have captured the suspected gunman who killed 39 people in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year's Day after a two-week nationwide manhunt, with state media saying he was seized along with four other suspects at a hideout in the city.

State-run Anadolu news agency said the alleged attacker, whom it and other media named as Abdulgadir Masharipov, was detained with a man of Kyrgyz origin and three woman from Egypt, Senegal and Somalia in Istanbul's Esenyurt district.

"I congratulate our police who caught the perpetrator of the Ortakoy massacre," Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, who is also the government spokesman, said on social network Twitter.

"Our war with terror and the powers behind it will continue to the end," he added.

Dozens of people have previously been detained in connection with the attack for which Islamic State has claimed responsibility, saying it was revenge for Turkish military involvement in Syria.

On Jan. 1, the attacker shot his way into the Reina nightclub then opened fire with an automatic rifle, reloading his weapon half a dozen times and shooting the wounded as they lay on the ground.

Turks as well as visitors from several Arab nations, India and Canada were among those killed in the attack.

The suspected gunman of Uzbek origin was caught in an apartment at a housing complex on the European side of Istanbul with his four-year-old son at around 11 pm (2000 GMT) on Monday, the Hurriyet newspaper website said.

Dogan news agency published a photo of the alleged attacker with a black eye, a cut above his eyebrow and bloodstains on his face and t-shirt. It broadcast video footage broadcast showing plain-clothes police leading a man wearing a white t-shirt to a waiting car.

The suspect was being questioned at Istanbul police headquarters, while other people were detained in raids across the city targeting Uzbek Islamic State cells, Anadolu said.

The shooting in Istanbul's Ortakoy neighborhood, an upscale district on the Bosphorus shore, came after a year in which NATO member Turkey was shaken by a series of attacks by radical Islamist and Kurdish militants and by a failed coup.

One security source said in the wake of the attack that the gunman appeared to have been well-versed in guerrilla warfare and may have trained in Syria.

President Tayyip Erdogan has said the attack, which targeted a club popular with local celebrities and moneyed foreigners, had been being exploited to try to divide the largely Sunni Muslim nation.

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Ralph Boulton and Michael Perry)

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