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Wife of Istanbul attack suspect detained

dpa logodpa 2/01/2017

Turkish police have launched raids in Istanbul and arrested 14 people, as the hunt for an attacker who killed 39 people in a nightclub intensifies.

Turkish authorities have reportedly detained the wife of a man suspected of shooting dead 39 people in a terrorist attack at an Istanbul nightclub on New Year's Day.

The woman was among several detained in overnight raids that took place in the central Turkish province of Konya, the Dogan news agency said.

Dogan placed the number of those detained in connection with the shooting at 14.

The suspected attacker, who is on the run, reportedly travelled from Syria to Turkey with his child and wife in November and settled in Konya.

The Hurriyet daily newspaper said earlier that the family of the gunman had been taken into police custody.

The suspect, whose name was yet to be released by the authorities, entered the Reina nightclub in Istanbul shortly after midnight on New Year's Day where he opened fire.

The Islamic State terror group on Monday claimed the shooting, hailing the assailant was a "heroic soldier."

IS released a statement on Monday, saying that "a heroic soldier of the caliphate struck one of the most famous nightclubs where the Christians celebrate their apostate holiday" in Turkey.

The nightclub assailant, armed with a long-barrelled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian in the early hours of 2017 outside the Reina club before entering and firing at some of the estimated 600 people inside.

The English-language Daily News quoted anti-terror expert Abdullah Agar as saying the way the gunman operated shows that "he is absolutely a killer and he probably shot at humans before."

Agar is quoted as saying that "the attacker is determined, faithful, practical, cold-blooded expert and knows how to get results ... he probably fired bullets in real clash zones."

The mass shooting follows more than 30 violent acts that have rocked NATO member Turkey in 2016.

Turkey launched an offensive to northern Syria in August in a bid to clear a strategic border area of IS militants and contain the gains of Kurdish fighters. Turkish jets are regularly bombing IS targets in the Syrian town of al-Bab as Turkish-backed Syrian opposition force try to capture it from the extremists.

Seven of the nightclub victims were from Saudi Arabia; three each were from Lebanon and Iraq; two each were from Germany, Tunisia, India, Morocco and Jordan. Kuwait, Canada, Israel, Syria and Russia each lost one citizen.

Meanwhile, Turkish deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus said a state of emergency, first installed after the July 15 coup attempt, would likely be renewed.

The state of emergency was renewed for 90 days in October and runs out at the end of the day on January 16.

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