Bulgaria indicts 5 suspects in connection with Istanbul bombing | News

Prosecutor says police arrested three men of Moldovan origin and a man and woman of Syrian-Kurdish origin this week.

Bulgarian prosecutors have charged five people with supporting “terrorist acts” in connection with an explosion in central Istanbul that killed six people on Nov. 13, chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev said on Saturday.

Bulgarian special police forces arrested three men of Moldovan descent and a man and woman of Syrian Kurdish descent this week after investigating and working closely with prosecutors in neighboring Turkey, Geshev told Reuters news agency.

“Five people have been charged. The charges are divided into two groups: for supporting terrorist acts in another country, namely the Istanbul attack, and for human trafficking,” said Geshev, adding that they were mainly involved in human trafficking through Turkey and smuggling.

A Bulgarian court later ruled on Saturday in a closed hearing that the four men could be held in pre-trial detention on charges of human trafficking, as there was insufficient evidence to keep them behind bars on charges of supporting terrorist activities.

Relatives and friends of Arzu Ozsoy and her 15-year-old daughter Yagmur Ucar, who died in the explosion on Sunday
Relatives and friends of Arzu Ozsoy and her 15-year-old daughter Yagmur Ucar, who died in the attack on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue, attend their funeral [File: Emrah Gurel/AP Photo]

Prosecutors have not asked the court to keep the woman in custody because of a health condition.

In Chisinau, the Moldovan Foreign Ministry has confirmed that three citizens have been arrested.

“Our country strongly condemns all acts of terrorism, including those in Istanbul,” said minister spokesman Daniel Voda.

Turkish prosecutors have already asked for the extradition of some of the suspected accomplices in the blast, Geshev added.

On Friday, a Turkish court ordered the jailing of 17 suspects pending trial and charged them with attempts against the unity of the state, willful murder and attempted murder. Among them was the suspected bomber, who was identified by police as Syrian national Ahlam Albashir.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast, which also injured more than 80 people on Istiklal Avenue, a busy and historic pedestrian zone.

Turkish authorities blamed the attack on the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK, as well as Syrian Kurdish groups affiliated with it. The Kurdish groups have denied involvement.

The attack was the deadliest in five years and brought back bitter memories of a spate of nationwide bombings between 2015 and 2017 that were mainly blamed on armed fighters from Kurds and ISIL (ISIS).

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