Nightclub attack: Istanbul police continue search
Turkey, 2 Jan – The manhunt continues for a gunman who killed 39 people in an Istanbul nightclub as Turkey marked the start of the new year.
The unknown assailant opened fire at Reina nightclub early on Sunday, before managing to flee amid the chaos.
The motive for the attack is not clear, but suspicion has fallen on the Islamic State group, already linked to at least two terror attacks in Turkey last year.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said such groups tried “to create chaos”.
“They are trying to… demoralise our people and destabilise our country,” he added.
The banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has distanced themselves from the killings, with the PKK’s Murat Karayilan quoted as saying they would “never target innocent civilians”.
Earlier, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu confirmed a “manhunt for the terrorist is under way. Police have launched operations. We hope the attacker will be captured soon.”
But as the search continued, the first funerals of those killed at the nightclub were held.
More than half of those killed in the attack – which lasted seven minutes – were foreign, according to the state run Anadolu Agency.
Among them were citizens from Israel, France, Tunisia, Lebanon, India, Belgium, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
The club, which sits on the banks of the Bosphorus, is one of Istanbul’s most upmarket venues – often frequented by singers and sports stars.
However, among the first to die was a security guard, identified as Fatih Cakmak, who had been standing at the door.
His brother said he narrowly escaped a double bombing three weeks ago, having been on duty when Kurdish militants launched an attack near a football stadium, killing at least 44 people, mostly police.
At least 69 people are being treated in hospital, officials said, with three in a serious condition.