At least 39 people, including 15 foreigners, were killed and 65 wounded when a gunman opened fire in a popular night club in Istanbul’s Ortakoy district in the early hours of January 1.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. The perpetrator is still at large, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said. The authorities have imposed a media blackout on coverage of the attack.
Turkey was hit by a wave of terror attacks last year, blamed on Kurdish militants and Islamic State (IS). Last month, twin bomb attacks in Istanbul’s Besiktas district killed 41 people and wounded more than 150. The Kurdish Freedom Hawks (TAK), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attacks.
The New Year gunman, who reportedly killed a police officer and a civilian before entering the Reina nightclub, opened fire with a Kalashnikov into the crowd of up to 700-800 people that were celebrating the New Year at around 1:15am local time.
The attacker left the nightclub with different clothing, the interior minister told reporters. Some eyewitnesses said two people, dressed in Santa Claus costumes, carried out the shooting. However, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim dismissed the claims that the attacker was wearing a Santa Claus outfit. "This is not true. He was an armed terrorist", Yildirim said.
Following US intelligence reports suggesting a possible attack, security measures had been tightened around the venue over the past 10 days, Mehmet Kocarslan, the owner of the nightclub, told the Hurriyet newspaper. The prestigious Reina, located near the Bosporus, is popular with the city’s rich and foreigners.