First Terror Attack of 2017 Hits Turkey, Killing 39 at Club

Gunman said to have been dressed as Santa also wounded 70 at Istanbul nightclub Reina: reports
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 1, 2017 6:00 AM CST
Gunman Dressed as Santa Kills 39 at Turkish Club: Reports
Ambulances rush to the scene of an attack in Istanbul early Sunday.   (STR)

Heavily armed police have been blocking the snowy street in front of Istanbul's Reina nightclub, where a gunman said to have been dressed as Santa killed at least 39 people and wounded almost 70 during New Year's Eve celebrations, the AP reports. Istanbul's governor says the attacker, armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian outside the popular Reina club at around 1:15am local time before entering and firing on people partying inside. Mehmet Dag, 22, was passing by the club and says he saw the suspect shoot the officer and a bystander. "I was in shock at the scene," he says. "Once he went in, we don't know what happened. There were gun sounds and after two minutes, the sound of an explosion." Cellphone footage filmed by Dag and seen by the AP shows a cop lying on the ground outside the club, then a woman. Footage shows ambulances and the lights of an Istanbul bridge when the sound of gunfire rings out inside.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Sunday that of the victims identified so far, 15 were foreign nationals. He said the attacker was still at large. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the attack, noting in a written statement Sunday: "I vehemently condemn the terror attack in Istanbul's Ortakoy neighborhood in the first hours of 2017." Condolences from around the world are arriving, with a White House National Security Council rep saying the attack on "innocent revelers" celebrating New Year's shows the attackers' savagery. German Chancellor Angela Merkel notes "terrorists ... have carried out an inhumane and devious attack on people who wanted to celebrate the New Year together," while Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a message to Erdogan it's "hard to imagine a more cynical crime than killing innocent people during New Year celebrations." (More Turkey stories.)

Get breaking news in your inbox.
What you need to know, as soon as we know it.
Sign up
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.