Turkish police are searching for an assailant who opened fire at Istanbul’s popular Reina club during New Year’s celebrations on Sunday, killing approximately 39 people and wounding around 70 others.
Gov. Vasip Sahin stated that the attacker -reportedly dressed as Santa Claus- armed with a long-barrelled weapon, killed a policeman as well as a civilian outside the club around 1:15 a.m. before entering and firing on people partying inside.
Approximately 600 people, including famous singers, actors and sports stars were celebrating. Several shocked revelers were seen fleeing after the attack and the music fell silent.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered condolences for those who lost their lives and condemned “the terror attack in Istanbul’s Ortakoy neighbourhood in the first hours of 2017.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his Turkish counterpart his condolences, and said in a telegram that “it is hard to imagine a more cynical crime than killing innocent people during New Year celebrations.”
The White House condemned the nightclub attack and offered aid to Turkey.
2017 starts with an attack in #Istanbul. Our thoughts are with victims and their loved ones. We continue to work to prevent these tragedies
— Federica Mogherini (@FedericaMog) January 1, 2017
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack and authorities have not named any suspects.
In 2016, the bloodiest attacks that Turkey has endured have been the work of the Islamic State group or Kurdish militants.
In Istanbul and Ankara last year, major attacks carried out by IS or Kurdish militants killed more than 180 people.