Shortly after 1:00am on Sunday morning, a lone gunman viciously opened fire in Reina, an upscale Istanbul nightclub packed with over 600 revelers celebrating the new year, killing at least 40 and wounding over 70, including an Israeli national.
Istanbul’s Governor Vasip Sahin said the assailant killed a policeman and a civilian prior to entering the club before unleashing a rain of bullets on the people partying inside. CNN Turk reported the attacker was dressed as Santa Claus to eliminate suspicion. The Doğan News Agency reported some witnesses claimed the attacker spoke in Arabic.
“Unfortunately, at least 35 of our citizens lost their lives…Forty people are receiving treatment in hospitals,” Sahin told reporters, according to the AFP news agency, emphasizing, “What happened today is a terror attack.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister reported at least one Israeli woman, 18, has been confirmed dead. She has been identified as Leanne Nasser, from the Israeli-Arab town of Tira. A relative of Leanne’s told Haaretz that efforts are being made to bring the woman’s body back to Israel for burial. Additionally, another Israeli woman was moderately wounded in the attack.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu revealed the assailant escaped capture and is still on the run, adding “efforts to find the terrorist are continuing”.
As of the time of reporting, no group has yet claimed responsibility.
— CNN International (@cnni) January 1, 2017
According to Fox News, the White House has condemned the awful incident, calling it a “horrific terrorist attack”.
The attack caps off a horrifying year of violence in Turkey. Two weeks ago, a Turkish policeman shouting ‘Allahu Akhbar’ assassinated the Russian Ambassador in Istanbul; earlier in December, a double explosion outside an Istanbul soccer stadium killed 29 and wounded 166; a bombing at the Atatturk Airport in June killed 45; an unsuccessful coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July left over 260 dead; a bombing in April that killed four targeted a group of Israeli tourists, and in February, an Istanbul bombing killed 28 people.