Istanbul: At least 2 Indians were among those killed in an attack on revellers celebrating the New Year in Turkey, External affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday.
In a post on Twitter, the Union minister wrote: “The victims are Mr.Abis Rizvi son of former Rajya Sabha MP and Ms.Khushi Shah from Gujarat.”
At least 39 people were killed and 69 others were seriously injurted on Sunday as an unidentified assailant unleashed a salvo of bullets in a crowded Istanbul nightclub during New Year’s celebrations. Some people reportedly jumped into the waters of the Bosporus to escape the attack.
The injured people are being treated in hospitals following the shooting.
A massiver manhunt is on in Turkey trace the assailant. Police boosted security measures in the upscale neighborhood of Ortakoy and its vicinity as part of security measure.
A CCTV footage shows the shooter who was dressed in black and carrying a backpack killed a police officer outside the Reina nightclub. Footage taken by a different camera shows him inside the swanky club in Istanbul’s Ortakoy neighborhood wearing different clothes and a Santa Claus hat.
The attacker, armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian outside Istanbul’s popular Reina club at around 1:15 am before entering and firing on people partying inside, Gov. Vasip Sahin said.
“Unfortunately (he) rained bullets in a very cruel and merciless way on innocent people who were there to celebrate New Year’s and have fun,” Sahin told reporters.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Sunday that of the victims identified so far 16 were foreign nationals.
According to sources, two Indian nationals were killed in the Istanbul attack. External Affairs Minsiter Sushma Swaraj on Sunday tweeted that Indian Ambassador is on his way to Istanbul to assess the situation there.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vehemently condemned “the terror attack in Istanbul’s Ortakoy neighborhood in the first hours of 2017” and offered condolences for those who lost their lives, including “foreign guests.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack and authorities did not name any suspects. The bloodiest attacks that Turkey endured in 2016 were the work of the Islamic State group or Kurdish militants.
Turkey is a member of NATO and a partner in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group. The country is also facing renewed conflict with Kurdish rebels in the southeast, and across the border in Syria and Iraq.
Private NTV news channel said the assailant entered the upscale nightclub, on the shores of the Bosporus, on the European side of the city, dressed in a Santa Claus outfit. The minister said the lone attacker was believed to have left the club wearing different clothing.
Turkey’s Minister of Family and Social Policies Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya said citizens of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya were among those hurt in the attack. Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry said three Lebanese citizens were wounded.
Heavily armed police blocked the snowy street in front of the nightclub where the entrance was covered with blue plastic sheeting below a Turkish flag. Police patrolled the Asian side of the Bosporus on the other side of the club.
The nightclub area remained sealed off on Sunday morning.
Crime scene investigators were seen inside the club searching through piles of mingled chairs, tables and pieces of clothing left behind during the panic among the guests.
And there were emotional scenes in front of a city morgue where those shot dead were brought for identification. Some relatives cried out and fell to the ground as they apparently learned the fate of their loved ones.
Major attacks carried out by IS or Kurdish militants killed more than 180 people in Istanbul and Ankara alone in 2016.
On December 10, a double bomb attack outside a soccer stadium near the Reina nightclub killed 45 people and wounded some 150 others. The attack was claimed by Turkey-based Kurdish militant group, the Kurdish Freedom Falcons.
“Turkey continues its combat against terror and is absolutely determined to do whatever is necessary in the region to ensure its citizens safety and peace,” said President Erdogan in a written statement Sunday.
The nightclub attack drew quick condemnation from the West and Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his Turkish counterpart a a telegram of condolences, saying “it is hard to imagine a more cynical crime than killing innocent people during New Year celebrations.”
“However, terrorists don’t share moral values. Our common duty is to combat terrorists’ aggression,” Putin said.
The White House condemned what it called a “horrific terrorist attack” and offered U.S. help to Turkey.
An estimated 600 people were celebrating inside the club that is often frequented by famous locals, including singers, actors and sports stars. Several shocked revelers were seen fleeing the scene after the attack and the music fell silent.
The prime minister’s office issued a media blackout on the events and asked media to refrain from broadcasting and publishing anything that may cause “fear in the public, panic and disorder and which may serve the aims of terrorist organizations.”
Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were put on duty, some disguised as Santa Claus and others as street vendors, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported.
Turkey’s Minister of Family and Social Policies says foreigners are among the wounded in the attack on an Istanbul nightclub. At least 16 of the victims were foreign nationals.
Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya said: “There are many different nationalities, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya and citizens of other nations.”
The minister was speaking to the media outside a hospital after visiting the wounded, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.