A gunman attacked one of the most iconic nightclubs which sits on the banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul soon after midnight Sunday. The assailant, armed with a long-barreled weapon, entered and began firing at random during a New Year’s Eve celebration. The gunman shot a police officer who was guarding the front gate at the Reina nightclub, killing him, before he entered into the club.
Turkey’s interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, said 39 people lost their lives, including 15 foreigners, and 65 other were wounded. Soylu said the attacker was believed to have been acting alone. Previous witness reports have suggested there might have been more than one attacker. Authorities earlier said the gunman was killed on site, so details remain unclear, about eight hours after the attack took place.
Turkish newspaper Hürriyet has quoted Mehmet Koçarslan, the owner of the Reina nightclub where the attack took place, as saying security measures had been brought in over the past 10 days after US intelligence reports suggested a possible attack. Koçarslan also mentions that the attacker was using “Kalashnikovs”. This is the first detail that has emerged about the type of firearm used, other than Istanbul governor Vasip Şahin’s reference to the use of “long-barreled weapon”. Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin has described the shooting as a terrorist attack. He said “Unfortunately (he) rained bullets in a very cruel and merciless way on innocent people who were there to celebrate New Year’s and have fun,”.
The year 2016 has turned Istanbul to a playground for terrorism. Istanbul, the vivid, crowded, intricate, heart of the country, experienced a coup attempt on July and frequent car bombs and suicide attacks resulting in high number of persons killed and injured.
The White House condemned the shooting as a ‘horrific terrorist attack’, and pledged their support to Turkey. US President Barack Obama has offered ‘appropriated assistance’ to Turkish authorities.