Turkish authorities on Sunday were hunting for the lone gunman who opened fire on a New Year’s celebration at one of Istanbul’s most popular nightclubs, killing dozens of people, including a number of foreigners, and wounding scores more in what officials have called an act of terrorism.
At least 39 people were killed, and another 70 people wounded, in the latest in a string of attacks that has shaken Turkey as it faces an array of threats both at home and as a result of the ongoing civil war in Syria.
Early Sunday, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the attack at the Reina Club, which began with a spray of gunfire around 1 a.m., was carried out by a single assailant, who has not yet been identified. Speaking to reporters outside an Istanbul hospital, Soylu said the attacker changed clothes in order to escape the scene.
“Our security forces have started the necessary operations,” Soylu said, calling the attack “a massacre.”
Authorities identified 20 of the victims, Soylu said, adding that at least 15 of those killed are foreign nationals.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, quoting Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, reported that citizens of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, and Libya were among those killed. Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday confirmed that an Israeli woman, 19-year-old Leanne Nasser, was killed in the attack. Her friend, 18-year-old Ruaa Mansour, was injured, according to Israeli media reports.