ISTANBUL – Thirty-five people were killed and 40 wounded in an attack in a nightclub early Sunday as they were celebrating the new year, Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin said.
Sahin called the incident “a terror attack.”
The attacker, who has not yet been identified, opened fire inside the high-end Reina nightclub in the busy Besiktas neighborhood of Istanbul, according to Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu.
One victim said as he was pushed into an ambulance that he didn’t know how many attackers there were, but he saw one person and hid.
“I got shot in the (expletive) leg, man,” he told journalists. “These crazy people came in shooting everything.”
There have been no claims of responsibility.
The recent wave of terrorist attacks in Turkey have left many people wary.
“This attack is, of course, a horrible development, but not shocking to many Turks who chose to stay inside this New Year’s Eve,” said Aykan Erdemir, former member of the Turkish Parliament.
“Turkey is known to host these big parties to celebrate New Year’s, but this year most citizens were wary of Islamist attacks so they chose to celebrate it at home with their friends.”
He said the attack seemed similar to what happened at the Bataclan, a Paris concert hall that was attacked by gunmen in 2015.
“This is an attack on the Western lifestyle. This is an attack on Turkey’s secular, urban way of living. And this will simply fuel the ongoing cultural clashes, the ongoing polarization in Turkey,” Erdemir said.
Turkey has seen multiple attacks in recent weeks. On December 10, a pair of bombings in Istanbul killed 44 people, including 37 police officers, and wounded 155 others. The two explosions occurred after a heavily attended soccer game at Besiktas Vodafone Arena.
On December 17, a car bomb exploded near a public bus, killing 13 soldiers in the central province of Kayseri. Three days later, a gunman assassinated Russia’s ambassador to Turkey at an Ankara art gallery.