Ankara – At least 39 people were killed, including 15 of Arab nationalities, when a gunman opened fire on New Year celebrators at a crowded nightclub on the shores of Istanbul’s Bosphorus waterway on Sunday.
“We were having fun. All of a sudden people started to run. My husband said don’t be afraid, and he jumped on me. People ran over me. My husband was hit in three places,” one club-goer, Sinem Uyanik, told a local Turkish newspaper.
“I managed to push through and get out, it was terrible,” she said.
Nationals of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya, Israel and Belgium were among those killed, officials said. France said three of its citizens were wounded.
“As a nation, we will fight to the end against not just the armed attacks of terror groups, but also against their economic, political and social attacks,” President Tayyip Erdogan said in a written statement.
“They are trying to create chaos, demoralize our people, and destabilize our country … We will retain our cool-headedness as a nation, standing more closely together, and we will never give ground to such dirty games,” he said.
The Reina club is one of Istanbul’s best-known nightspots, popular with locals and foreigners. Some 600 people were thought to have been inside when the gunman shot dead a policeman and civilian at the door, forced his way in and then opened fire.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that terrorism “cannot intimidate” the Turkish people.
Yildirim held a short news briefing in Istanbul on Saturday afternoon after he visited several victims injured in this morning’s gun attack on a nightclub in the city.
“Terrorism is humanity’s common problem. Its aim is to break our unity and brotherhood,” Yildirim said.
Meanwhile, an official source at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s condemnation and denunciation of the armed attack, which occurred in Ortakoy neighborhood in Istanbul.
In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the source reiterated the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s support and solidarity with Turkey against terrorism and extremism.
For his part, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed condolences on Saturday for the attack at a nightclub in Istanbul and directed his team to offer U.S. help to Turkish authorities, the White House said.
“This afternoon the president was briefed by his national security team on the attack in Istanbul,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement.
“The president expressed condolences for the innocent lives lost, directed his team to offer appropriate assistance to the Turkish authorities, as necessary, and keep him updated as warranted”, he added.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg posted a Twitter message, lamenting a “tragic start to 2017 in Istanbul.”
“My thoughts are with those affected by the attack on people celebrating the new year and with Turkish people,” Stoltenberg said.
Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, stated on Twitter, “It was supposed to be a night of celebration: Terrorists turned it into one of violence, death, despair. My thoughts are with Istanbul, Turkey.”