PHOTO: An armored vehicle in front of the scene of the New Year attack in Istanbul
In the latest mass killing in Turkey, at least 39 people have been slain in a New Year’s attack on an Istanbul nightclub.
More than 65 people were wounded in the attack, carried out just before 1:30 a.m. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said 16 of the dead at the popular Reina club by the Bosphorus, were foreigners. Five were Turkish and 18 are still to be identified.
Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin said a lone attacker, who is still at large, killed a police officer and a civilian at the entrance of the club before entering and firing with Kalashnikovs.
Soylu erroneously said the attacker was wearing a Santa Claus suit.
Video of the attacker shooting and going into the nightclub:
— Daniel Nisman (@DannyNis) January 1, 2017
Reports said that US intelligence warned of a possible attack more than a week, but that security measures could not prevent the type of assault launched on Sunday. About 25,000 police were deployed in Istanbul for the New Year.
A witness said up to 600 people were in the club, often frequented by celebrities, artists and football stars. Some revelers jumped into the water to escape the gunfire and were rescued by police.
Turkey, including Istanbul and the capital Ankara, has been struck by a series of deadly bombing and shootings since May 2013 that have killed at least 275 people and wounded thousands. On December 10, at least 41 people — including 30 police officers — were killed and 166 wounded by twin bombings outside the stadium of the Beşiktaş football club in Istanbul.
The Islamic State, the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, or the PKK offshoot Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) have been blamed in almost all of the cases. However, no group has been linked yet to this morning’s attacker.