Istanbul nightclub attack ‘leaves 35 dead’

Ebun Francis with agency report

At least 35 people have lost their lives in an attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, in what may turn out to be the first terror attack in the year 2017.

Among the dead is one police officer, Vasip Sahin stated, adding that it was a terror attack.

At least another 40 were injured in the attack which took place in the Reina nightclub, in the Ortakoy area, at about 01:30 local time (22:30 GMT).

One attacker was involved, the governor said, while CNN Turk reported he was dressed in a Santa Claus costume.

“A terrorist with a long-range weapon … brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun,” Mr Sahin told reporters at the scene of the upmarket Reina nightclub, which sits on the banks of Bosphorus in the city’s European side.

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Unconfirmed report say as many as 700 people were in the nightclub at the time of the attack, some of whom are believed to have jumped into the river to escape.

Dogan news agency reported that some witnesses claimed the attackers were “speaking Arabic” while Turkish television channel NTV said special force police officers were searching the nightclub.

Istanbul was already on high alert with some 17,000 police officers on duty in the city, following a string of terror attacks in recent months.

Many were carried out by so-called Islamic State (IS) or Kurdish militants.

Nobody has taken responsibility for the latest attack as at the time of filing this report.