The External Affairs Ministry on Sunday evening said that two Indians were killed in a mass shooting at an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s eve. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Abis Rizvi son of a former Rajya Sabha legislator and one Khushi Shah from Gujarat were among the 39 people killed in the attack. Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu confirmed the toll and said the police were on the lookout for the attacker.
The accused dressed as Santa Claus and rained bullets on partygoers soon after the new year began. The government has imposed a media blackout with an exception for official statements.
Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin said the attacker had killed a police officer before entering the Reina nightclub in the Ortakoy area around 1.30 am local time. Soylu said 69 people, including 16 foreign nationals, were being treated at local hospitals.
“A terrorist with a long-range weapon…brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun,” Sahin said, according to the BBC. Government officials later said the attacker had been killed.
At least 600 people were at the nightclub’s New Year’s Eve party when the attack began, CNN Turk reported. The club is located on the Bosphorus river, and several people jumped into the water to escape. They were later rescued by the police.
The White House issued a statement condemning the attack while reaffirming its support for Turkey, its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally. The statement said the incident “underscored the savagery of the attackers”.
The incident follows several attacks that were perpetrated during December, including twin blasts at a stadium in Istanbul that killed 38 people and injured 166 others and the assassination of the Russian ambassador on December 19.
Extremist groups, including the Islamic State, have targeted the country with several deadly attacks. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack as yet.