Thirty five people have been killed in an armed attack in an Istanbul nightclub, the city’s governor has revealed.
The gunman, believed to have been dressed in a Santa costume, opened fire inside the Reina nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortaköy district, where hundreds were celebrating the New Year.
A further 40 people are thought to have been wounded in the attack, which has been captured in CCTV footage. It happened at 1.30am local time.
Special forces officers have stormed the building, but the location of the gunman is unknown.
Many party-goers threw themselves into the Bosphorus in panic after the attack, and had to be rescued.
It happened at one of the most popular nightclubs in the heart of Istanbul, and footage shows survivors being taken to safety.
Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin has described the shooting as a terrorist attack. He revealed that a police officer was among those shot.
The attacker is believed to have shot the law enforcer and a civilian before opening fire inside the nightclub.
Initial reports suggested that two gunmen had stormed the building, but authorities are currently understood to be searching for one killer.
Turkish news site Virgul reports that the killer was shouting in Arabic during the attack.
Footage from the scene showed at least six ambulances with flashing lights and civilians being escorted out.
Several people are believed to have jumped into the water outside the venue before being rescued by police.
Media reports said police have cordoned off the area and an operation is ongoing.
A reporter from NTV said the attack may have been carried out by a lone gunman.
The nightclub lies on the European side of the Bosphorus Strait which divides Istanbul in two.
An estimated 17,000 police officers are on duty in the city. Turkey has been heavily hit by terror attacks in 2016.
Earlier today Neslihan Dogruol, a restaurant owner in a chic Istanbul neighborhood, said she hopes for peace in 2017 following a year filled with ‘unrest and death.’
‘2016 affected everyone badly,’ she said, referring to major attacks that hit Turkey in the past year.
The restaurant, adorned with snowflakes and tiny decorative lights for the evening, will have fewer people for dinner, she said.
At a commemoration for the 45 people killed in twin bombings on December 10 in Istanbul, Murat Manoglu hoped for a better year ahead.
‘We lived through terrible days,’ he said.
Security measures were heightened in major Turkish cities. Traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, have been closed.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Dave Burke