At least 39 people were killed and over 70 wounded on Sunday morning when gunmen dressed as Santas opened fire on New Year’s revelers at a nightclub in Istanbul, according to Turkish officials and news reports
The assault began about 1 a.m., when a gunman shot and killed a police officer who was guarding the door, according to Istanbul Mayor Vasip Sahin, who spoke to reporters in front of the club about two hours after the shooting. After killing the policeman, the gunman “brutally and violently attacked innocent people who came here to enjoy themselves,” Sahin said, calling it a “terrorist attack.”
Sahin mentioned only one assailant, but other witnesses, speaking to local media, said they had seen two or more. It was not immediately clear where the attacker or attackers were.
The key suspect escaped the scene by changing clothes at the club after the attack, according to reports on Turkish media. There have also been rumors that there was a second attacker, but officials are now just talking about one terrorist.
Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan condemned the attack and said that the perpetrators of the attack “tried to bring chaos” to Turkey.
“I strongly condemn the terrorist act that took place in Istanbul in the first hours of 2017. The perpetrators of this inhuman act that targeted civilians are trying to bring chaos to our country and break the spirit of our people. We are determined to uproot terrorism and threats to our country. These attacks are linked to the events in our region,” Erdogan said, refering the Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria, which is aimed against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and YPG forces (linked with PKK terrorist group according to Ankara).
Video from the scene of attack:
Teyitsiz bilgiler 30’dan fazla ölü olduğu yönünde. Saldırganlar defalarca şarjör değiştirdiler. pic.twitter.com/CzG0PKp6Vg
— Murat Şahin (@SunucuSpiker) January 1, 2017