A gunman has killed thirty nine people and wounded seventy others when he entered Reina nightclub on New Year’s Eve and opened fire. The province’s governor described the incident as a terror attack.
According to Governor Vasip Sahin, the attacker killed a civilian and policeman outside the club before going inside. He used a long barrelled weapon. The attack began at 1.45am local time.
Mr Sahin told reporters, “Unfortunately (he) rained bullets in a very cruel and merciless way on innocent people who were there to celebrate New Year’s and have fun.”
According to reports on NTV news, the gunman was dressed as a Santa Claus.
Suleyman Soylu, Interior Minister, said, “Efforts to find the terrorist are continuing.
“Our security forces have started the necessary operations. God willing he will be caught in a short period of time.”
Around sixteen people killed in the attack were foreign nationals according to the Interior minister. So far only five of the victims have been identified as Turkish. Authorities are trying to identify the people killed at this time. Seventy people were taken to hospital for treatment.
One clubber, Sinem Uyanik, said, “Before I could understand what was happening, my husband fell on top me. I had to lift several bodies from top of me before I could get out. It was frightening.”
Riot police blocked off the area with armoured vehicles. The Reina nightclub is one of the most popular in Istanbul. It is believed around six hundred people were celebrating New Year when the attack happened.
Throughout 2016 Turkey has seen terror attacks increase mostly carried out by Islamic State or Kurdish militants. Around one hundred and eighty people have died in these attacks.
From the White House to the EU, condolences have been offered for the attack and the justice departments in Turkey have vowed to fight terror in all its forms.