Dozens Killed in Istanbul Attack

Turkish police are searching for a terrorist after at least 39 people were gunned down at a nightclub in Istanbul
Turkish police secure the area at Ortakoy District under Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul on Jan. 1.Turkish police secure the area at Ortakoy District under Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul on Jan. 1.
The attacker killed a policeman and a civilian outside the club before entering and firing on people inside

At least 39 people have been killed and dozens more wounded in an attack on a crowded nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey’s interior minister said.

Suleyman Soylu added that police are hunting a terrorist after the attack that hit the night spot in Ortakoy neighborhood at around 1:15 a.m. on Sunday.

Governor Vasip Sahin said the attacker, armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian outside the Reina club before entering and firing on people partying inside, Aljazeera reported.

“A terrorist with a long-range weapon ... brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun,” he said at the scene.

Witnesses reported seeing at least one gunman at the nightclub and earlier local media reports said one attacker had been killed.

“Sixty-nine people were in hospital after the attack,” Soylu said. “Of the 21 dead identified so far, 15 were foreigners.”

Some survivors jumped into the waters of the Bosphorus to save themselves and were being rescued by police.

Dozens of ambulances and police vehicles were dispatched to the attack site.

The Reina lies on the shore of the Bosphorus Strait and is one of Istanbul’s best-known nightclubs, popular with locals and tourists alike.

Aljazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from the scene, said he saw several survivors rushing to taxis to leave after being cleared to leave the club by police.

“What security services will be trying to ascertain is not only how many attackers there were but what kind of weapons were used and how they were able to overcome security precautions,” he said.

At least 500 people were thought to have been in the nightclub when the attack happened.

Ortakoy is a cosmopolitan neighborhood located under one of three bridges crossing the Bosphorus, and home to clubs, restaurants and art galleries.

Nobody has so far claimed the attack, but experts say the needle of suspicion points at the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, which has repeatedly targeted civilians in Turkey in recent months.

Aljazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Istanbul, said security services believe the timing and target suggest IS involvement. Eight IS members had been detained, suspected of preparing a suicide attack on New Year’s Eve, she said.

The Reina nightclub is not only frequented by partygoers but also used as a venue by businessmen and diplomats to conduct meetings, she said.

Koseoglu said those in the club reported seeing up to three attackers, carrying Kalashnikovs.

An eyewitness quoted by the Hurriyet newspaper said she had seen two attackers.

“Two people were shooting with weapons,” she said. “Suddenly people started to run. My husband told me not to be afraid. He jumped on top of me. People ran over me. My man was shot in three places.”

  Multiple Threats

The White House described the attack as “savagery” and said the US intelligence services would help Turkish authorities investigate the attack.

Turkey, part of the US-led coalition against IS, faces multiple security threats, including fallout from the war in neighboring Syria.

It has seen repeated attacks and bombings blamed on IS as well as Kurdish fighters of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in recent months.

The PKK and its affiliates are known to target mostly members of Turkey’s security forces rather than civilians.

The attack comes less than two weeks after Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated while giving a speech at an art gallery in the capital Ankara.


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