At least 39 people, including five foreigners were killed when a gunman opened fire on New Year revellers at a packed nightclub on the shores of Istanbul’s Bosphorus waterway on Sunday, before fleeing the scene.
The assailant shot a police officer and a civilian as he entered the Reina nightclub before opening fire at random inside. The club lies on the shore of the Bosphorus Strait in the Ortakoy district of Turkey’s most populous city.
More than 40 people were also injured in what the provincial governor described as a terrorist attack.
Nationals of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya, Israel and Belgium were among those killed, officials said. France said three of its citizens were wounded.
“Around 1:15am (2215GMT) a terrorist with a long-range weapon came to a night club, he martyred a police officer waiting in front of the night club and then shot a citizen and entered inside. He brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun. This is a terror attack,” Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin told reporters at the scene.
Around 500-600 people were thought to have been in the club when the attack happened at around 1:15 a.m. (7.30 p.m. ET), broadcaster CNN Turk said. Some jumped into the waters of the Bosphorus to save themselves and were being rescued by police.
Turkey is part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State and launched an incursion into Syria in August to drive the radical Sunni militants from its borders. It also helped broker a fragile ceasefire in Syria with Russia.