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Police Hunt for Istanbul Attacker Underway

People react to the attack on the street outside  the Istanbul nightclub.People react to the attack on the street outside  the Istanbul nightclub.

The self-styled Islamic State terrorist group has claimed the attack on the upscale Istanbul nightclub that left 39 people dead.

The statement emerged amid a massive manhunt by Turkish police for the unknown gunman.

The militant group released the statement on Monday, saying that “a heroic soldier of the caliphate struck one of the most famous nightclubs where the Christians celebrate their apostate holiday” in Turkey, Deutsche Welle reported.

In the online statement, they also labeled the Muslim-majority Turkey a “protector” of Christianity.

Turkish authorities were still looking for the attacker who opened fire in the prominent Reina during the New Year’s celebrations on the previous day.

The assailant reportedly shot a police officer outside the club, then entered and started shooting at hundreds of patrons inside, less than one hour after Turkey rang in the New Year. Some of the guests jumped into frigid water of the Bosporus Strait to avoid the attack.

 t least 39 people were killed and 69 injured, officials said.

“A manhunt for the terrorist is underway,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters. “We hope the attacker will be captured soon.”

He added that 15 victims have been identified as foreign nationals. Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya also said that many Arab tourists were killed in the shooting.

“There are foreigners and Turks, but the majority are foreigners. From different countries-Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya,” Sayan Kaya said.

According to Soylu, officials believed that only one gunman was responsible for the assault. Local media previously spoke of two attackers who allegedly used Santa Claus outfits as a disguise.

The interior minister also said it was likely that the attacker left the club wearing different clothing.

  Erdogan Defiant After Terror Strike

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that his country would continue fighting terror.

“They are trying to create chaos, demoralize our people and destabilize our country,” he said, addressing the nation on Sunday morning.

“We will retain our cool-headedness as a nation, standing more closely together, and we will never give ground to such dirty games,” he added.

During 2016, the dominantly Muslim Turkey has been hit by several deadly terror attacks, both by the IS terrorists and the Kurdish insurgency. At least 17,000 police officers were on duty in Istanbul during the New Year’s celebration.

 

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