The terror attack in Istanbul that killed ten German tourists on Tuesday was aimed at damaging the Turkish economy, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Saturday.
“The real target was Turkey and the Turkish economy,” he said in an interview with German newspaper Die Welt.
“The suicide bomber was a Syrian with links to DAESH,” he added.
Simsek said the initial findings of the investigation had determined the attack, which has been linked to DAESH but not claimed by the group, was not aimed specifically at Germany.
He also said the attack came after Turkey intensified the fight against DAESH, hitting targets of the group in Syria.
“DAESH is the biggest threat for us,” Simsek said, pointing to previous bomb attacks linked to the group such as October’s twin suicide bombing in Ankara that killed 103 people.
Simsek dismissed criticisms in Western media that Turkey had not taken combatting DAESH seriously and said security forces had stepped up operations against the group to a great extent.
“Just last week we had arrested two other terrorists in Ankara, who were also planning suicide attacks," he said, emphasising Turkey’s determination and efforts.
Turkey has listed DAESH as a terrorist organisation since 2013. So far more than 3,300 suspects have been investigated over links to DAESH and other extremist groups.
According to the Turkish Interior Ministry, 847 suspected DAESH members are currently in custody, most of whom are foreigners.
Turkey is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, visited by more than 35 million people a year, and the tourism industry is one of the most important sectors of the Turkish economy.
Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala said last week that tourists should not give into fear and carry on as normal. “We have taken necessary security measures,” he said in a Wednesday news conference.
“There is no reason to be worried,” Ala said.
German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere said after the attacks that there was no reason for German nationals not to travel to Turkey.