At least 35 people have been killed and dozens more wounded in an attack at a popular nightclub in Turkey’s most populous city, Istanbul.
Turkish media reports say an armed man opened fire on people taking part in new year celebrations at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul’s Besiktas district.
Another 40 people are reported to have been wounded in the attack at the night spot in Ortakoy district.
The Reina lies on the shore of the Bosphorus Strait and is one of Istanbul’s best-known nightclubs, popular with locals and tourists alike.
Ortakoy is a cosmopolitan neighbourhood nestled under one of three bridges crossing the Bosphorus, and home to clubs, restaurants and art galleries.
The attacker shot his way into the Reina, which was packed with New Year’s revellers early on Sunday.
He shot a police officer and a civilian as he entered the Reina nightclub before opening fire at random inside.
‘A TERROR ATTACK’
Vasip Sahin, governor of Istanbul, said the incident was “a terror attack” targeting innocent people who were at the club to celebrate the new year.
“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,” he said at the scene.
About 500-600 people were thought to have been in the nightclub when the attack happened at around 1:15am local time, broadcaster CNN Turk said.
Some jumped into the waters of the Bosphorus to save themselves and were being rescued by police.
Dozens of ambulances and police vehicles were dispatched to the attack site in Ortakoy.
Turkey, part of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (SISL) groups, faces multiple security threats including fallout from the war in Syria.
It has seen repeated attacks and bombings blamed on ISIL, also known as ISIS, as well as Kurdish fighters of the PKK in recent months.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies