The shooting at the city’s Reina club has been described by officials as a terror attack.

At least 39 people have been killed in an attack on an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Eve. A gunman, reported by some outlets to have been wearing a Santa costume, entered the popular Reina club in the city’s Ortakoy district around 1.30am and begun “brutally and savagely” shooting clubbers according to governor Vasip Sahin. The gunman fled the scene and is said to be still at large.

Between 600 and 700 people are said to have been in the venue at the time of the attack. More than 40 people are thought to have been injured in the attack, which Sahin claims was carried out by “a terrorist with a long-range weapon” who began “firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun.” Witnesses reported a frantic rush for the exits as the attacker opened fire, and people jumping into the river next to the club in a bid to escape.

Turkish politician Suleyman Soylu told reporters following the attack: “A manhunt for the terrorist is under way. Police have launched operations. We hope the attacker will be captured soon.” He added that the shooting was “a massacre, a truly inhuman savagery.”

[via BBC News]

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