A gunman reportedly dressed in a Santa costume attacked a famous night club in Istanbul, Turkey killing and injuring scores of people who were celebrating new year.
The attacker armed with a long-barrelled weapon, shot a police officer before storming the elite Reina club in the Ortakoy area at about 1.45am.
Armored police vehicles surrounded the building and ambulances rushed to the scene.
Istanbul’s governor Vasip Şahin said that at least 35 people were killed and 40 wounded in the incident which he called a terrorist attack.
“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,” Sahin told media at the scene of the attack.
Previously, it was reported that two gunmen were involved in the attack.
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Speaking about the circumstances of the attack, Şahin said that the assailant first killed the police officer, who was standing at the door of the club, and then went on a rampage inside, killing innocent civilians.
Eyewitnesses at the club said that the attacker was speaking Arabic, Turkish media are reporting.
The gunman was dressed in Santa Claus outfits, wielding assault rifle, Turkish media said.
The attacker opened fire on clubgoers, injuring at least 20-30, according to NTV. One of the gunmen has reportedly hidden inside the club, while the whereabouts of the second one were not immediately clear.
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The number of casualties may rise, as it is estimated that between 700 and 800 people could have been in the club at the time of the attack, Mynet Haber reports.
Emergency crews have been evacuating injured people from the building as police search the area.
After the attacker stormed into the building, some club-goers jumped into the sea in panic, Turkish media cited eyewitnesses as saying. A search and rescue operation for those who jumped in the water is being carried out by maritime police.