Sunday, January 01, 2017

Istanbul nightclub attack kills 39 in New Year carnage

Thirty-nine people, including many foreigners, were killed when a gunman reportedly dressed as Santa Claus stormed an Istanbul nightclub as revellers were celebrating the New Year, the latest carnage to rock Turkey after a bloody 2016.

The assailant shot dead a policeman and a civilian at the entrance to the Reina club, one of the city's most exclusive nightspots, and then went on a shooting rampage inside, Turkish officials said.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the attacker escaped and was now the target of a major manhunt, expressing hope the suspect "would be captured soon".

Soylu said in televised comments that of 20 victims who have been identified so far, 15 are foreigners and five are Turks. Another 69 people are being treated in hospital.

"The attacker -- in the most brutal and merciless way -- targeted innocent people who had only come here to celebrate the New Year and have fun," Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin said at the scene on the shores of the Bosphorus.

Many revellers threw themselves into the water in panic and efforts were under way to rescue them, NTV television said.

Dogan news agency said earlier there were two gunmen dressed in Santa Claus outfits, although this has yet to be confirmed. Soylu said in his latest remarks it appeared there was only one gunman.

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