Istanbul, Turkey — A massive manhunt is underway for at least one gunman who stormed a nightclub while dressed in a Santa Claus outfit and opened fire on a crowd of 800 people.
During a New Years Eve party at the popular waterfront nightclub, Reina, an unknown assailant shot and killed the security guard at the door, then entered the packed venue and began firing a machine gun at the hundreds of guests inside.
Eyewitness reports state the possibility there may have been more than one gunman involved. Witnesses also state the man was speaking in Arabic as he fired at the patrons.
The owner of the Reina nightclub, Mehmet Koçarslan, said extra security measures had been taken before tonight’s incident after the club received a warning about a possible attack from U.S. Intelligence.
The owner said, “US intelligence warned about such an attack about one week or 10 days ago – and measures were taken, including [on] the sea front. And look what has happened.”
Euronews reported that some club-goers jumped into the sea in complete panic as the attack unfolded. They were later rescued by police.
So far, 39 people are reported dead, with 15 of them being foreigners. There were another 69 people injured.
Istanbul’s governor, Vasip Sahin, made this statement to the media from the scene: “A terrorist with a long-range weapon… brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets at innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun.”
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