The Islamic State gunman responsible for a mass shooting at a Turkish nightclub methodically executed patrons for “at least” 20 minutes, according to witnesses.
The New Year’s Eve attack on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub left 29 dead and approximately 70 wounded. Younis Turk, a French citizen of Turkish origin, recounted the horrific scene in an interview with Reuters Monday.
“As soon as he entered the club he started firing and he didn’t stop. He fired non-stop for 20 minutes at least,” said Turk.
Security camera footage taken at the scene of the crime showed the unidentified ISIS gunman as he entered the club, firing on bystanders with an AK-47 assault rifle and screaming “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great.”
“We thought that there were several of them because it just didn’t stop. And there was some kind of bombing as well, he threw some explosives,” said Turk.
Francois al-Asmar, who was wounded in the arm during the attack, recounted how the attacker systematically executed the wounded. Turkish forensic reports confirm some of the dead were shot at point-blank range.
Mehmet Yilan, a bartender at the nightclub, noted that the attacker specifically targeted the most packed areas of the club and appeared to know the layout of the club.
“He stormed in and immediately headed for the people to the left, which is always more crowded … I wonder if he came here before because he seemed to know where to go,” explained Yilan. “He was shooting randomly but aiming for their upper bodies. He didn’t want to just injure them.”
Reina is known as a popular destination for travelers, suggesting ISIS chose the spot in order to kill as many foreigners as possible. Most of the dead were of foreign origin, including one Canadian, a Belgian and a Russian. One American was injured in the attack.
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