World

Turkey PM: We will 
find armed terrorist soon

ISIS claims it was behind attack on Istanbul nightclub

ISTANBUL: Turkish police were on a massive manhunt yesterday for a gunman who killed 39 people, mostly foreigners, in a rampage at Reina, an upmarket nightclub here, where revellers were celebrating the New Year.

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim believes the attacker will be found soon, CNN reported.

"There is strong coordination and we will find him, no delay," he told reporters outside a hospital, where he had been visiting people injured in the attack.

Yesterday, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack.

The assailant "left the gun and went away from the scene of the incident", Mr Yildirim said.

"It was an armed terrorist."

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the shooter had arrived with a gun concealed under an overcoat but subsequently exited the venue wearing a different garment.

Police and intelligence services were beginning to piece together clues about the attack and the public would be informed soon, Mr Yildirim said.

NTV broadcaster said the gunman fired between 120 and 180 rounds in the seven-minute attack, during which many revellers threw themselves into the freezing waters of the Bosphorus to escape death.

Late on Sunday, police rushed to the city's Kurucesme district after a tip-off, but the operation did not produce any arrest.

"The danger continues," wrote columnist Abdulkadir Selvi in Hurriyet. "So long as this terrorist is not seized, we do not know when and where a massacre could take place."

In a statement circulated on social media, terror group ISIS said one of the "soldiers of the caliphate" had carried out the attack.

Meanwhile, one witness spoke of the panic and carnage at the venue, considered one of Istanbul's swankiest.

"Just as we were settling down, by the door there was a lot of dust and smoke. Gunshots rang out," professional footballer Sefa Boydas told AFP. "People were walking on top of people."

NIGHT OF HORROR

Italian tourist Maximilien said: "We came here to have a good time today but everything was suddenly transformed into chaos and a night of horror."

Television pictures showed party-goers dressed to the nines - men in suits and women in cocktail dresses - emerging from the exclusive club in a state of shock.

Mr Albert Farhat recounted to Lebanese TV station LBCI the moment the club came under attack.

"Around 1.15, we heard Kalashnikov fire. We thought it might be people who had drunk too much and were fighting but then people started throwing themselves to the ground."

One survivor, Francois al-Asmar, from Lebanon, told of his lucky escape. He told Lebanese television: "I was saved by my passport which I was carrying right near my heart." - AFP

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