MOSCOW — Authorities in the former Soviet republic of Georgia have identified one of the gunmen killed in a recent counterterrorism operation as a suspect behind a deadly attack at Istanbul’s main airport last year.
The Georgian State Security Service said in a statement on Friday that the gunmen who blew himself was Akhmed Chatayev.
Turkish officials have named Chatayev, a Chechen extremist known to be a top lieutenant in the Islamic State militant group, as a possible organizer of the gun-and-bomb attack at the airport which killed 45 people.
One officer and three gunmen died in a 20-hour counterterrorism operation in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, last month.
Georgian authorities said they are investigating to see how the men had crossed the border into Georgia.
On June 28, 2016, three suspected IS militants, armed with automatic weapons, stormed Ataturk Airport and detonated their suicide vests, killing 45 people and injuring 163 others.
Dozens of suspects accused of involvement in the attack are currently on trial in Turkey, accused of murder, attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and membership in a terror group.
The defendants include Russian nationals, among them Chechens, along with Algerian, Tunisian, Egyptian, Syrian and Turkish citizens.
Turkey has suffered a string of attacks blamed on IS militants that have killed more than 300 people since 2015.