(Sarah Joanne Taylor) A gun attack on Reina nightclub in Istanbul has left at least 35 people dead and more than 40 people wounded, according to the city’s governor. Ten people are said to be in a serious condition.
by Sarah Joanne Taylor, December 31st, 2016
Foreign nationals are reported to be among the dead.
Vasip Şahin has labelled the shooting a terrorist attack, which he says involved a single shooter.
“A terrorist with a long-range weapon […] brutally and savagely carried out this attack by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the new year and have fun,” Şahin told the media.
However, local media reports on the number of attackers vary.
One man who was wounded in the attack also seemed to contradict the governor’s report:
“They were merciless,” he said. “Three or four people opened fire at the crowd, firing at people’s heads.”
‘Shooting at random’
Some 500-600 people are thought to have been inside the club, celebrating the new year.
Wielding Kalashnikovs, the attacker/s reportedly opened fire on police outside the club at around 1.30am local time (00.30am CET), killing at least one police officer and one civilian. They are said to have shot their way into the venue and to have begun shooting at random.
Police, special forces and explosives experts are carrying out a search of the building, according to NTV.
US President Barack Obama has directed his team to offer “appropriate assistance to the Turkish authorities,” the White House says.
“This afternoon the president was briefed by his national security team on the attack in Istanbul,” said spokesman Eric Shultz in a statement.
“The president expressed condolences for the innocent lives lost, directed his team to offer appropriate assistance to the Turkish authorities, as necessary, and keep him updated as warranted.”
Santa Claus costume
Initial reports suggest at least one of the shooters was wearing a Santa Claus costume. Eyewitnesses claim the attacker was speaking Arabic.
Television footage shows ambulances and police vehicles outside the venue in the Ortaköy district of the city.
Ortaköy’de ünlü gece kulübü Reina’da silahlı saldırı…
Yaralıların olduğu belirtiliyor
İşte olay yerinden ilk görüntüler pic.twitter.com/vc1rJdxMik
— Habertürk TV (@HaberturkTV) December 31, 2016
Desperate attempts to flee
Reina lies on the European side of the Bosphorus Strait, which splits Istanbul in two. Some partygoers had jumped into the river to escape the gunfire, NTVreports, and police were rescuing them from the water.
Police have now reportedly been ordered to close all nightclubs in Istanbul for the night.
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