Gunmen dressed as Santa Claus massacred 35 people in an Istanbul nightclub terror attack in Turkey just after midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Attackers stormed into the nightclub Reina, which was full of approximately 600 people, at 1:15 a.m. local time and began shooting, The New York Times reports.
A police officer was also killed in the attack.
At least 40 others have been injured, and many people threw themselves into the Bosphorus strait, which separates Europe and Asia, to avoid the shooting. They are now being rescued by emergency crews.
Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin immediately called the massacre a terror attack.
“Unfortunately, at least 35 of our citizens lost their lives. One was a police officer. Forty people are receiving treatment in hospitals,” Sahin told the press.
“One person first kills the police officer outside, and then a civilian,” Sahin added. “Inside, he rained bullets brutally, mercilessly over innocent people who were there just to celebrate the New Year and have fun.”
The owner of the club told a local news outlet that U.S. intelligence had warned of an impending attack, prompting Turkish officials to boost security for the last 10 days.
There are currently conflicting reports on the number of attackers. According to The New York Times, which reported the governor’s remarks, there are believed to have been three attackers. It’s unclear how many were wearing Santa Claus costumes, but it seems the costume or costumes were used to blend in, as the outfit has become popular in Turkey during New Year’s celebrations.
Some more radical sects of Islam have taken to condemning the practice.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Police are still looking for the perpetrators.
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