Authorities are searching for a gunman who opened fire Sunday at a packed nightclub during New Year’s celebrations in Istanbul. More than 500 people were inside the Reina club when what authorities described as a terrorist attack began at about 1:15 a.m. Here is what we know so far.
The gunman killed at least 39 people and injured 69. Three of the wounded remain in critical condition, according to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Foreigners were among the fatalities, according to the Associated Press, including an 18-year-old Israeli woman, three Indian citizens, a 26-year-old man from Lebanon and a Belgian national, according to the countries’ respective foreign ministries and a relative. State-run Anadolu news agency reported Sunday that a 22-year-old police officer, Burak Yildiz, was shot and killed outside the Reina nightclub. A female security guard, Hatice Karcilar, 29, was also among those killed, according to Anadolu.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which Turkish authorities said was carried out by a lone assailant. A closed-circuit television recording of the attack showed the gunman wearing a Santa Claus hat for part of the attack, according to the Associated Press, which obtained the recording from Haberturk newspaper. Turkey’s prime minister disputed earlier reports that the gunman wore a Santa Claus outfit.
Turkey’s prime minister said the attacker left a gun inside the venue and escaped by “taking advantage of the chaos” that ensued. “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,” Istanbul Gov. Vasip Sahin told reporters.
An assailant believed to have been dressed in a Santa Claus costume opened fire at a crowded nightclub in Istanbul during New Year’s celebrations, killing at least 39 people and wounding close to 70 others. (Jan. 1)
Turkey on high alert
Turkey is a member of NATO and a partner in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group. The bloodiest attacks that Turkey endured in 2016 were the work of the Islamic State group or Kurdish militants. Turkish security forces have been on high alert after a Russian ambassador to Turkey was killed Dec. 19 while attending a photo exhibition. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the country is “extremely determined to do whatever it takes” to secure the region after recent terror attacks.
Reina owner Mehmet Kocarslan told the private Dogan news agency that police had recently boosted security measures in the upscale neighborhood of Ortakoy and its vicinity. The efforts included a 24-hour police presence and complementary efforts by the coast guard at sea.
What world leaders are saying
The White House condemned what it called a “horrific terrorist attack” and offered U.S. help to Turkey. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his Turkish counterpart a telegram of condolences, saying “it is hard to imagine a more cynical crime than killing innocent people during New Year celebrations.”
If you’re an American in Turkey
The U.S. consulate in Istanbul on Sunday warned American citizens to keep their movements in the city “to an absolute minimum.”
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