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Bulgaria Extradites Istanbul Bombing Suspect to Türkiye

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 14: People lay flowers to pay tribute to the victims of a Sunday's blast that took place on Istanbul's famous Istiklal Street on November 14, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. Turkish officials have said a woman was arrested in connection with yesterday's bombing. They alleged she was seen sitting on a bench for 40 minutes and leaving just before the blast. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

A suspect involved in a deadly terrorist attack in Istanbul in November last year was apprehended in Bulgaria and extradited to Türkiye, local media reported Wednesday.

The suspect Hazni Golge was captured after Turkish authorities tipped off their Bulgarian counterparts on Jan. 7 that he was staying at the Imperial Palace Hotel in the town of Svilengrad, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

On Tuesday, he was deported to Türkiye’s northwestern border city of Edirne and later transferred to Istanbul by Istanbul Police Department’s anti-terrorism teams.

Golge is suspected of assisting Bilal Hassan, one of the planners of the attack, in fleeing Türkiye following the bombing on Istanbul’s busy Istiklal Avenue, which killed six and injured 81 others on Nov. 13, Anadolu said.

“We discussed the issue with (authorities in) Bulgaria. They delivered him (Golge) to us in Edirne … We thank Bulgaria for the cooperation,” Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in a televised speech.

This is not the first cooperation between the two countries regarding November’s attack. In the week following the bombing, Bulgarian authorities detained five suspects involved with logistical support.

A total of 61 suspects have been detained for being involved in the attack, including Ahlam Albashir who set off the bomb, according to Anadolu.

Turkish police said Albashir confessed that she received the attack order from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and its offshoot in Syria, the People’s Protection Units. Both are listed as terrorist organizations by Türkiye.