Istanbul: New Year’s Eve celebrations marred with ‘terror attack’ that killed 35

Istanbul's Governor Vasip Sahin termed the incident a "terror attack" but shed no light on who may have carried it out.

Istanbul's Governor Vasip Sahin termed the incident a "terror attack" but shed no light on who may have carried it out.Turkish police officers block the road leading to the scene of an attack in Istanbul, early Sunday. (AP Photo)
A gunman dressed like Santa Claus is believed to have attacked one of the most iconic nightclubs in Turkey’s Istanbul soon after midnight Sunday. The club, which was packed with a crowd of over 500 people on the eve of new year, saw the assailant, armed with a long-barreled weapon, opening fire on civilians. Before entering, he killed a policeman and a civilian. At least 35 people lost their lives and 40 other were wounded.A police armoured vehicle blocks the road leading to the scene of an attack in Istanbul, early Sunday. (AP Photo)

The city’s Governor Vasip Sahin termed the incident a “terror attack” but shed no light on who may have carried it out. “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,” he told reporters. Sahin said there was only one attacker but other reports, including on social media, suggested there may have been at least two.

Video: Governor of Istanbul addresses media after the attack

The club popular with locals and foreigners alike, overlooks the Bosphorus Strait separating Europe and Asia in the Ortakoy district, a neighbourhood on the city’s European side nestled under one of three bridges crossing the Bosphorus and home to nightclubs, restaurants and art galleries. Some of the party-goers jumped into the waters of the Bosphorus to save themselves and were rescued by police.

Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara. In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were put on duty, some camouflaged as Santa Claus or street vendors.Medics carry a wounded person at the scene after the attack. (AP Photo)

The New Year’s Eve attack came five months after Turkey was shaken by a failed military coup, in which more than 240 people were killed, many of them in Istanbul, as rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets in a bid to seize power. Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city, has seen several attacks this year, the latest on December 10, when two bombs claimed by Kurdish militants exploded outside a soccer stadium, killing 44 people and wounding more than 150.

Video: Bosporus’ west bank shut down following night club shooting

Turkey, a NATO member and part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State, faces multiple security threats including spillover from the war in neighbouring Syria. US President Barack Obama expressed condolences on Saturday for the attack at a night club in Istanbul and directed his team to offer help to their NATO ally. The White House condemned the “savagery”, calling the attack “horrific.”Ambulances near the scene of the attack in Istanbul. (AP Photo)
Source - Indian Express

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