Police are still looking for an armed assailant, who is believed to have been dressed in a Santa Claus costume and opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year’s celebrations, killing at least 39 people and wounding nearly 70 others, according to Istanbul’s governor and Turkey’s state-run news agency.
Gov. Vasip Sahin said the attacker, armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian outside the club before entering and firing on people partying inside.
“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,” Sahin told reporters.
Footage from the scene showed at least six ambulances with flashing lights and civilians being escorted out.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the man was still on the run, adding: “efforts to find the terrorist are continuing.”
“Our security forces have started the necessary operations. God willing he will be caught in a short period of time,” the minister said.
At least 15 of the dead were foreign nationals, Soylu said, without providing information on their nationalities. Five of the victims were identified as Turkish nationals while authorities were still trying to identify the rest. At least 69 people were being treated in hospitals, four in serious condition, Soylu said.