An assailant believed to have been dressed in a Santa Claus costume opened fire at a crowded nightclub in Istanbul during New Year's celebrations, killing at least 39 people and wounding close to 70 others in what the province's governor described as a terror attack.
The attacker was reported to have been armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian outside the club at around 1:45 a.m. Sunday before entering and firing on people partying inside.
At least 16 of the dead were foreign nationals, although their respective nation is yet to be known. Five of the victims were identified as Turkish nationals while authorities were still trying to identify 18 of the victims. At least 69 people were being treated in hospitals, four in serious condition.
Some customers jumped into the waters of the Bosporus to escape the attack, which took place at the Reina nightclub located in Istanbul's Ortakoy district .
However, Turkish official revealed that the suspect is still at large and on the run and security forces have started necessary operations to capture him within a short period of time.
On Dec. 10, a double bomb attack outside soccer stadium — located near the Reina nightclub — killed 44 people and wounded 149 others. The attack was claimed by Turkey-based Kurdish militant group, the Kurdish Freedom Falcons. Nine days later, an off-duty Turkish riot policeman assassinated Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov at a photo exhibition in the capital, Ankara. The government has suggested that a movement led U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen was behind the killing — an accusation the cleric has denied.