Turkish authorities on Monday confirmed Hayat Boumeddiene, the girlfriend of gunman Amedy Coulibaly, who killed some shoppers at a grocery store in Paris, France, travelled through its airport last week on her way to Syria.
AFP reports Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying Boumeddien “entered Turkey on January 2 from Madrid. There are images of her at the airport.”
Cavusoglu said the 26-year-old stayed at a hotel in Kadikoy on the Asian side of Istanbul and was accompanied by another person. According to her phone records, Boumeddien, crossed into Syria on January 8.
AFP said a Turkish security source on Saturday told it that Boumeddiene entered Turkey on January 2 and was believed to have moved on to the southeastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa and then to Syria. The source said France failure to alert Turkey on time was why she wasn’t arrested.
Cavusoglu’s comments confirm that Boumeddiene was already outside France when the killing spree began, contrary to earlier speculation that she had been involved in the Paris killings in which 17 people died.
Boumeddiene is suspected of having had a role in her partner attacks which culminated in a bloody hostage-taking in a kosher supermarket on Friday after he had shot dead a policewoman close to a synagogue the day before.
But despite earlier describing her as “armed and dangerous”, French police sources said she was likely already in Turkey at the time of the attacks.
Western countries have long accused Turkey of not doing enough to stem the flow of jihadists seeking to join Islamic State (IS) group fighters in neighbouring Syria.
But Ankara insists it has now stepped up frontier security and has repeatedly said the West also has a responsibility to share intelligence.