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A number of people of Uighur ethnicity have been detained in Turkey over the deadly Istanbul’s Reina club attack that killed 39, the state-run news agency reports.

Those arrested are believed to have come from China’s Xinjiang region with ties to the attacker, Anadolu agency says.

Deputy PM Veysi Kaynak also said they were closing in on the attacker, who he said was possibly an ethnic Uighur.

Also on January 5, there was an explosion near the courthouse in the city of Izmir in western Turkey.

Social media images showed two vehicles ablaze and several people were reported wounded.

Other images showed what appeared to be the body of a man carrying a gun, amid media reports he was an attacker who was shot dead by police.

Anadolu reported a second man was shot dead and police were seeking a third.

ISIS says it carried out the Istanbul attack over Turkey’s military involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Turkish authorities have reportedly tightened security at the country’s land borders and airports to prevent the attacker from fleeing abroad.

Local media have run images of a suspect, saying the pictures were handed out by the police. But the police have given no official details.

The Turkish foreign minister has said the authorities have identified the gunman, but has not given further details.

Special forces made the early morning arrests at a housing complex in Selimpasa, a coastal town on the outskirts of Istanbul, after police were reportedly tipped off that individuals linked to the attacker were in the area.

Uighurs were among those detained – the number was not confirmed – on suspicion of “aiding and abetting” the attacker, Anadolu reported.

At least 36 people were already in custody over suspected links to the attack, many of whom were picked up in an earlier police operation in Izmir.

Several families had recently traveled there from Konya, a central city where the main suspect was said to have stayed for several weeks before the attack.

Separately, Veysi Kaynak told Turkish broadcaster A Hamer that the authorities knew where the suspect, who he described as “specially trained”, was hiding, without giving further details.

The deputy prime minister confirmed the attacker had acted alone, but may have had help inside Reina club.

Veysi Kaynak expressed confidence in the Turkish police operation but said he could not rule out the possibility of the attacker fleeing the country.

Previous media reports incorrectly suggested the attacker was a national from Kyrgyzstan, after a passport photo claiming to show the gunman was circulated.

It later emerged the passport belonged to someone unrelated to the attack.

Kyrgyzstan’s embassy in Turkey has since asked the media to retract the reports and issue an apology.

More than half of those killed in New Year’s attack on Istanbul’s popular Reina club were foreigners, including citizens from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Morocco.

The gunman managed to escape in the aftermath of the attack.

A day later, ISIS issued a statement saying “a heroic soldier” belonging to the group had carried out the attack in retaliation for Turkey’s military role in northern Syria.

Veysi Kaynak also said on January 5 Turks were questioning the use of the country’s Incirlik air base by both NATO and the US-led coalition launching air strikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Turkey launched a military operation in Syria in August to push back ISIS and Kurdish forces.

Some of Turkey’s big cities have since been targeted in a number of bomb attacks by ISIS and by Kurdish militants.


China has expelled French journalist Ursula Gauthier over an article she wrote that was critical of Beijing’s policy towards Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Beijing confirmed it would not renew press credentials for Ursula Gauthier, of the French news magazine L’Obs.

It said an article Ursula Gauthier wrote about the unrest in Xinjiang supported “terrorism and cruel acts” that had killed people.

Ursula Gauthier called the claims “absurd” and said Beijing was trying to deter foreign reporters in the country.

If her press card is not renewed, Ursula Gauthier cannot apply for a new visa, and will have to leave China by December 31.

Ursula Gauthier would be the first foreign journalist to be expelled since al-Jazeera correspondent Melissa Chan in 2012.

Photo AP

Photo AP

China blames the long-running unrest in western autonomous Xinjiang region on Islamist separatists, many of whom it says have foreign ties.

However, Xinjiang’s ethnic Uighurs, most of whom are Muslim, say Beijing’s repression of their religious and cultural customs is provoking the violence.

Ursula Gauthier published her article after the attacks in Paris in November, suggesting China’s solidarity with France might have an ulterior motive – to justify its own crackdowns in Xinjiang.

The article triggered condemnation from the Chinese government and state media, which demanded an apology and retraction from her.

China’s foreign ministry confirmed on December 26 it would not renew Ursula Gauthier’s press card, saying she had failed to make a “serious apology” to the Chinese people and was no longer “suitable” to continue working in the country.

“China will never support the freedom to champion terrorism,” the ministry said.

The foreign ministry complained of what bit termed a double standard, whereby tough action in the West was called anti-terrorism but in China was described as the repression of ethnic minorities.

Chinese police captured three suspects involved in Saturday’s deadly mass knife attack at Kunming railway station, state media report.

Several men and women burst into the south-western city’s railway station stabbing people at random, leaving 29 dead and wounding more than 130.

Officials have blamed separatists from the Xinjiang region for the attack.

Four attackers were shot dead by police at the scene, officials say. An injured female suspect was reportedly detained.

Citing a statement from the Ministry of Public Security, Xinhua news agency said six men and two women, led by a person identified as Abdurehim Kurban, were responsible for the attack.

There were no details about how the suspects were identified and captured.

Chinese police captured three suspects involved in Saturday's deadly mass knife attack at Kunming railway station

Chinese police captured three suspects involved in Saturday’s deadly mass knife attack at Kunming railway station

Officials say that evidence, such as insignia recovered from the station about “East Turkestan”, points to the involvement of separatists from Xinjiang – a region in the far west of China bordering Central Asia.

China’s security chief, Meng Jianzhu, has vowed “all-out efforts” to “severely punish terrorists”.

Eyewitnesses described horrific scenes on Saturday, saying that in just 12 minutes attackers used curved swords and meat cleavers to stab people at random as they rampaged through the station.

A memorial for the victims has been set up at Kunming station’s concourse

Kunming is the capital of China’s Yunnan province. On Monday, security was tight, with a heavy police presence at Kunming station and surrounding areas.

Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur minority group. Recent months have seen several violent incidents there which the government has blamed on extremists. Verifying these reports is difficult because foreign journalists’ access to the region is tightly controlled.

China is often accused of exaggerating the threat of Islamist terrorism to justify its harsh security crackdown in Xinjiang and the restrictions it places on the religion and culture of the Uighurs.

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Chinese separatists Uighur Muslims from the north-western Xinjiang region are blamed for the mass knife attack at Kunming railway station that left 29 people dead and at least 130 wounded, officials said.

A group of attackers, dressed in black, burst into the station in the south-west city of Kunming and began stabbing people at random.

Images from the scene posted online showed bodies lying in pools of blood.

State news agency Xinhua said police shot at least four suspects dead.

A female suspect was arrested and is being treated in hospital for unspecified injuries while a search continues for others who fled the scene.

Authorities described the incident as an “organized, premeditated, violent terrorist attack”.

The Kunming city government later said that evidence from the scene pointed to separatists from Xinjiang as being behind the attack.

It gave no details and the claim could not be verified.

Chinese separatists Uighur Muslims are blamed for the mass knife attack at Kunming railway station

Chinese separatists Uighur Muslims are blamed for the mass knife attack at Kunming railway station

Some of Xinjiang’s minority Uighur Muslims want autonomy from Chinese rule and an end to state suppression of their religion.

Witnesses in Kunming said those who couldn’t run quickly were cut down by the attackers’ knives.

A survivor named Yang Haifei, who was wounded in the back and chest, told Xinhua he had been buying a train ticket when the attackers rushed into the station.

“I saw a person come straight at me with a long knife and I ran away with everyone,” he said.

First reports said the attackers were only men, but witnesses and police later said the group also included women.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and PM Li Keqiang sent condolences to the victims and their families.

President Xi Jinping urged “all-out efforts” to investigate the attack.

“Severely punish in accordance with the law the violent terrorists and resolutely crack down on those who have been swollen with arrogance,” Xinhua quoted the president as saying.

The incident comes a few days before the opening of China’s annual parliamentary session, the National People’s Congress.

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