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DNA tests 'close' to revealing the identity of Turkey bomber

By AP Reporters

Turkish investigators are close to identifying one of the suicide bombers in Turkey's deadliest attacks in years, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said - adding that Islamic State is the "number one priority" of the investigation.

However, in an interview with private NTV television, Mr Davutoglu also said the evidence pointed to a "certain group" which he refused to identify.

The government raised the death toll in the weekend attack to 97, including one Palestinian. A pro-Kurdish party has said that up to 128 people died.

The rally on Saturday was organised by Turkish and Kurdish activists to call for increased democracy and an end to renewed fighting between Turkey's security forces and Kurdish rebels that has killed hundreds since July.

On Monday, Yeni Safak, a newspaper close to the government, said authorities investigating the bombings were focusing on IS, comparing DNA samples of the suspected bombers with those obtained from families of 20 extremists they suspect could have carried out the attacks.

No one has claimed responsibility but the attack bears similarities to a suicide bombing that killed 33 Turkish and Kurdish peace activists near the town of Suruc, bordering Syria, in July. The government blamed that attack on IS.

The Hurriyet newspaper said the type of device and explosives used in Ankara were the same as those used in Suruc.

Mr Davutoglu said Turkey received intelligence that Kurdish rebels or IS militants were planning suicide bombings and said two would-be bombers were detained before Saturday's attack.

"There was general intelligence concerning a team called the 'immortals' within Daesh (IS) making preparations, concerning preparations by the PKK," Mr Davutoglu said.

He said the attack aimed to influence the result of Turkey's November 1 election and cast a shadow over the polls.

Mr Davutoglu rejected opposition accusations that the attacks were a result of Turkey's involvement in the conflict in Syria and that the government was dragging the country into the Middle Eastern quagmire.

"These attacks won't turn Turkey into a Syria," he said.

Yesterday, hundreds of people marched in the capital Ankara to condemn the suicide bombings.

The march turned into an anti-government protest. Demonstrators accusing the government of not taking measures to protect the rally - or even being behind the attack - chanted: "The killer state will be held to account!"

Government opponents have also accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of fomenting violence to gain votes - an accusation the Turkish leader rejects.

On Sunday, police detained four more suspected IS militants in a raid in the city of Adana. The detentions raised the number of suspected IS militants taken into custody since Saturday to 40.

Belfast Telegraph


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