Middle East News

At Least 39 Killed and Dozens Injured in Istanbul Nightclub Attack

At least 39 people are dead and dozens of others are injured after a nightclub attack in Istanbul on Sunday, according to the city's governor Vasip Sahin, in what is being described as a terror attack.

At least 39 people were killed and dozens more injured after a gunman opened fire at a nightclub packed with New Year’s revelers in Turkey.

Sixty-nine other people were wounded in the attack, including four whose injuries were described as critical.

The attacker, who was originally reported to have been dressed as Santa Claus, stormed the Reina nightclub, reportedly one of Istanbul’s most popular venues in the early hours of the morning.

However,  Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said the gunman was not dressed as Santa Claus. He also stated the assailant left his gun at the scene before fleeing the nightclub.

Reina nightclub, seen here in a file picture, is one of the most exclusive in Istanbul (Image: Reuters)

 

Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin said the gunman killed a police officer and a civilian outside the club around 1:15 a.m. before entering and firing on people inside about half an hour later.

“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,” interior minister Suleyman Sahin said.

Turkish state news agency Anadolu quoted family minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya as saying most of the dead were foreigners from different countries, including Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon and Libya.

Sahin said 15 foreign nationals had been identified among the victims.

Turkish special force police officers and ambulances are seen at the site of an armed attack January 1, 2017 in Istanbul (Image: Getty)

Eyewitness Sinem Uyanik said her husband Lutfu Uyanik was wounded in the attack. “Before I could understand what was happening, my husband fell on top me,” she said, adding, “I had to lift several bodies from on top of me before I could get out.”

Police in riot gear backed by armored vehicles secured the area surrounding the nightclub.

The Islamic State and Kurdish militants are blamed for several attacks in Istanbul and Ankara that killed more than 180 people last year.

Generally, IS does not claim responsibility for attacks it carries out in Turkey.

The White House on Sunday condemned the attack and offered to help in the investigation.

Some attacks in Turkey during 2016

  • 10 December: Twin bomb attack outside a football stadium in Istanbul kills 44 people. Kurdish militant group TAK claims responsibility
  • 20 August: Bomb attack on a Kurdish wedding party in Gaziantep kills at least 30 people. IS suspected
  • 28 June: Gun and bomb attack on Ataturk airport in Istanbul kills 41 people. IS suspected.
  • 13 March: 37 people are killed by Kurdish militants in a suicide car bombing in Ankara
  • 17 February: 28 people die in an attack on a military convoy in Ankara

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