A gunman opened fire at an Istanbul nightclub filled with New Year’s revelers early Sunday morning, killing at least 39 people and injuring scores of others, according to Turkish officials.
The target of the attack was the Reina nightclub, in the Ortakoy neighborhood overlooking the Bosporus, which had maintained its popularity with a mostly affluent, cosmopolitan clientele despite a series of terrorist attacks that had severely crimped Turkey’s tourism industry. Popular among professional soccer players and soap opera stars, and with Turks and foreigners, the nightclub is known for its late-night parties and the beautiful view from its terrace.
As many as 600 people were estimated to have been in the club when the attacker, a lone gunman, burst in around 1:15 a.m. and opened fire.
At least 15 of the people killed were foreigners, the Foreign Ministry said. They included citizens of Belgium, France, India, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, according to news agencies and government statements. Sixty-nine people were hospitalized, four in critical condition.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the mass shooting, which came as threats against Turkey by the Islamic State and its supporters have increased. It was the fourth terrorist attack in Turkey in less than a month.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters that the authorities did not yet have hard evidence on who was behind the attack. “Some details have started emerging, but the authorities are working towards a concrete result,” he told reporters. He denied widespread accounts that the gunman might have been dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, saying: “There is no truth to this. He is an armed terrorist as we know it.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country’s most powerful leader, said that terrorists were trying to break Turkey’s will.
“They are working to destroy our country’s morale and create chaos by deliberately targeting our nation’s peace and targeting civilians with these heinous attacks,” he said in a statement. “We will retain our coolheadedness as a nation, standing more closely together, and we will never give ground to such dirty games.”
He added, “Turkey is determined to continue to fight to the end against terror and to do whatever is necessary to ensure the security of its citizens and secure peace in the region.”
Gov. Vasip Sahin of Istanbul Province said a police officer outside the club had been killed before the bloodshed began inside.
“One person first kills the police officer outside, and then a civilian,” Mr. Sahin said. “Inside, he rained bullets brutally, mercilessly over innocent people who were there just to celebrate the New Year and have fun.”