Bulgaria detains five more over fatal Istanbul bombing

2. Bulgaria Turkey
Police officers escort suspects linked to the Istanbul bombing in a court in Sofia on November 19, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

SOFIA — Bulgaria has detained five people accused of having helped one of the suspects in last weekend’s bombing in central Istanbul, which killed six people, prosecutors said Saturday.اضافة اعلان

The latest arrests come a day after Turkey took 17 suspects into custody over last Sunday’s blast, which Ankara has blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The victims include two girls aged nine and 15.

“Five people have been charged” over their “logistical” help aiding one of the suspects to flee, Siyka Mileva, a spokeswoman for the Sofia prosecutor’s office told AFP.

Two of those detained are “Syrian Kurds” — a woman and a 31-year-old man called Amran Abdulrami who was the main suspect, Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev told AFP. All five were detained on Wednesday.

The three others are “Moldovan nationals from the Gagauz minority”, a Turkic-Christian group, Geshev added. Turkey has sought the extradition of some of the suspects.

Geshev said the suspects were also accused of human trafficking at the Bulgaria-Turkey border with the help of Bulgarian public sector workers.

A Sofia court later on Saturday formally took four of the suspects into custody but the prosecutor did not ask for the woman under investigation to be kept in detention.

Local media reported she had been released.

A court statement said the link to the Istanbul attack remained to be proven. “The only link is a mobile phone that one of the suspects had used to contact one of the perpetrators of the attack,” it said.

Abdulrami’s lawyer said his client rejected the allegations and would appeal against his detention.

The PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG, have denied involvement in the blast, which also wounded 81 people. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Turkish police arrested the chief suspect Alham Albashir — a Syrian woman said to have been working for Kurdish militants — in an Istanbul suburb.

Albashir reportedly confessed to planting the bomb during her interrogation.

The Istanbul court remanded the 17 suspects in pre-trial detention on charges of “destroying national unity” and “deliberate killing”.

Albashir said she joined the PKK because of her boyfriend’s influence and maintained her ties to the group after she broke up with him, the Turkey’s Anodolu news agency said.

The attack was the deadliest in five years and evoked memories of a wave of nationwide bombings from 2015 to 2017 that were blamed mostly on Kurdish militants and Daesh terrorists.

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