A gunman opened fire on New Year revelers at a packed nightclub on the shores of Istanbul’s Bosporus on Jan. 1 killing at least 39 people, including many foreigners, before fleeing the scene.

“We were having fun, at first we thought it was a fight then there was a lot of gunfire,”
-eyewitness Yunis Turk told CNN after police secured the Reina nightclub in the neighborhood of Ortakoy.
“After the gunfire, everyone started to run toward the terrace. We ran as well. There was someone next to me who was shot and fell on the floor. We ran away and hid under the sofas.”

As many as 600 people were estimated to have been in the club when the attacker, a lone gunman, burst in around 1:15 a.m. and opened fire.

Fifteen of the people killed were foreigners, the Foreign Ministry said. They included five Saudis; three Jordanians; two Indians; a Tunisian couple, one of whom was also a French citizen; a teenager from Israel; a Lebanese man; and a dual citizen of Belgium and Turkey, according to news agencies and government statements.

Some people jumped into the Bosporus strait, he said, a testament to the panic that engulfed the nightspot. Temperatures were near freezing in Istanbul and yet people were willing to leap into the frigid waters to escape.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters that the authorities did not yet have hard evidence on who was behind the attack.

“Some details have started emerging, but the authorities are working towards a concrete result,”

he told reporters. He denied widespread accounts that the gunman might have been dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, saying:

“There is no truth to this. He is an armed terrorist as we know it.”

Security services had been on alert across Europe for New Year celebrations following an attack on a Christmas market in Berlin that killed 12 people. Only days ago, an online message from a pro-ISIL group called for attacks by “lone wolves” on “celebrations, gatherings, and clubs.”

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