The attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group on an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people was aimed to polarise Turkish society, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.
“The aim was clear, to create a fissure and polarise society,” Erdogan said in a speech at his presidential palace, in his first spoken comments on Sunday’s attack. “We will stand tall and keep our sangfroid.”
The gunman, who killed 39 people during New Year’s celebrations at the Reina club, is still at large. But Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said authorities had identified the man, without providing details.
“The identity of the person who carried out the attack on the Reina nightclub has been established,” Cavusoglu told Anadolu in a live televised interview.
Turkish police, meanwhile, detained at least five suspected Islamic State group militants believed to be linked to the attack, the state-run news agency reported. The operation was launched in the Aegean port city of Izmir and was ongoing, Anadolu Agency said.
IS has claimed responsibility for the attack, which also wounded nearly 70 people. Of those killed 27 were foreigners, many from the Middle East. Islamic State said a “soldier of the caliphate” had carried out the mass shooting to avenge Turkish military operations against IS in northern Syria.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the attack aims to set Turks against each other and deepen fault lines, but the country won’t fall for this game.
Erdogan made the comments in a live speech from Ankara, the first time he has publicly addressed the nation since the attack.