ISTANBUL — The man who killed 39 people in an attack on an Istanbul nightclub on New Year's Day is probably a Turkish-Chinese man and Turkish security services now know where he might be hiding, Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said on Thursday.
Kaynak described the man as a "specially trained" member of a cell who carried out the attack alone and said that while the possibility of him fleeing abroad could not be ruled out, security operations inside Turkey were more likely to find him.
"The terrorist's identity has been established by security forces and his potential whereabouts have also been determined," Kaynak said in an interview with broadcaster A Haber, noting that they had also found out who he was linked to.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for Turkish military involvement in Syria.
Counter-terrorism police, gendarmes and special forces swooped on a housing complex in Selimpasa, a coastal town just to the west of Istanbul, after receiving intelligence that individuals who may have helped the attacker were there.
Additional suspects of the ethnic Turkish-Chinese minority, Uighurs, were among those detained, local media reports said.
The Uighurs are a largely Muslim, Turkic-speaking minority in far western China with significant diaspora communities across central Asia and Turkey.
A security source and media reports have said that the gunman was thought to be a national of a central Asian country.
The suspect, who authorities have not named, shot his way into exclusive Istanbul nightclub Reina early on Sunday and opened fire with an automatic rifle, throwing stun grenades to allow himself to reload and shooting the wounded on the ground.
In the confusion, several early witness reports said there may have been more than one attacker, something the Turkish authorities have largely ruled out.