Daesh claims New Year's Day Istanbul nightclub attack

This is the third major incident claimed by Daesh in the past year and Turkish authorities have not yet identified the gunman.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Reina is a popular nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortakoy district, and at the time of the shooting around 500 to 600 people were believed to be celebrating the new year.

Updated Jan 5, 2017

Daesh has claimed responsibility for the Istanbul nightclub shooting that killed 39 people and injured 69 in the early hours of Sunday morning.

This is the third major assault carried out by Daesh in Turkey in the past year. In June, they claimed responsibility for the attack on Istanbul's biggest airport, killing 35 and in August a suicide bomber targeted a wedding in Gaziantep, in south east Turkey, killing 54 people.

There has been an increase in Daesh-claimed attacks after the Turkish armed forces launched an operation against it in Syria.

Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield in August aimed at ridding Daesh and other terror groups from its borders. Ankara is also cracking down on Daesh networks at home. In counter-terrorism operations between December 26 and January 2, Turkish police detained 147 people with suspected links to the group and arrested 25.

Funeral services have begun for some of the victims of the New Year's Day shooting at an Istanbul nightclub.   (Reuters)

There was no immediate comment from Turkish officials. 

State broadcaster TRT Haber said eight people had been detained in Istanbul.

A massive manhunt for the attacker is underway and Turkish police have carried out multiple raids across Istanbul.

Police have also distributed a hazy black and white photograph of the gunman taken from security footage. Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper reported that he may be from a Central Asian nation.

Turkish authorities on Monday also released picture of the alleged attacker.

This hand out picture released by the Turkish police on January 2, 2017 shows the main suspect in the Reina nightclub rampage one day after a gunman killed 39 people in an attack at an upmarket nightclub in Istanbul. Source: AFP

The lone gunman is believed to have taken a taxi from Zeytinburnu, an eastern suburb in Istanbul and because of busy traffic, got out and walked to the nightclub. Police are dusting the vehicle for fingerprints.  

Private news organisation, Haberturk reported that the shooter pulled out his Kalashnikov rifle from a suitcase at the side of the road and opened fire on those at the door. Then, he threw two hand grenades after entering. Without citing sources, Haberturk said six empty magazines were found at the scene and it is alleged that he fired at least 180 bullets.

Nationals of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya, Israel, India, a Turkish-Belgian dual citizen and a French-Tunisian woman were among those killed.

Survivors described diving under tables as the gunman walked around spraying bullets from the automatic rifle. Some people jumped into the icy Bosphorus to save themselves. 

TRTWorld and agencies