Unidentified Gunman Sprays Bullets in Istanbul nightclub, 39 killed

Published On:January 2, 2017, 3:28 pm

On Sunday, a gunman opened fire on New Year revelers at a packed nightclub which was located on the shores of Istanbul’s Bosphorus waterway killing at least 39 people, which included many for foreigners, and later fled the scene. The Turkish police have set up a massive manhunt for the gunman who fled the scene.

A few people jumped into the Bosphorus to save themselves when the unidentified attacker started shooting at random in the Reina nightclub when 2017 in Turkey was just 75 minutes old. Several witnesses described diving under tables when the assailant walked around spraying bullets from an automatic rifle.

At least 39 club-goers were killed and approximately 70 were hospitalized, and all of the victims hailed from 14 different countries, according to Turkey’s semi-official sources. The tourists were at the upmarket nightclub in Istanbul celebrating the New Year.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim stated that he is sure that the attacker will be found soon. He addressed to the reporters saying that, "There is strong coordination and we will find him, no delay."

In spite of no group taking up the responsibility, Turkish authorities swiftly named the attack as the work of terrorists. On Sunday morning the Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters, "We are face to face with a terror attack, the efforts to locate the terrorist are ongoing. Security forces have begun the necessary operations. God willing soon (the attacker) will be apprehended."

Leaders from across the world, which included Pope Francis, condemned the shooting. The United States officials also called it a terrorist attack, making it the first of 2017.

A Lebanese woman named Hadeel who was in the night club along with her husband and a friend said, "At first we thought some men were fighting with each other," "Then we heard the sound of the gunfire and ducked under the tables."

She further added, "We heard the guy screaming Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest), all three of us heard that ... We heard his footsteps crushing the broken glass, we got out through the kitchen, there was blood everywhere and bodies."

Turkish officials spoke of a sole attacker, a “lone wolf” in the parlance of Islamic State; however a few reports citing witnesses who included social media suggested that there might have been many others.

Several nationals of Morocco, India, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Israel, etc., were among those who were killed. Soylu said 15 or 16 of those killed at Reina were foreigners but as of now only 21 bodies had been identified. 69 people were in the hospital of which four are in critical condition.

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