The UN Security Council condemned “in the strongest terms” the shooting in Turkey that killed at least 39 people at a night club on New Year’s Eve, calling the assault “a heinous and barbaric terrorist attack.”
In a press statement, the council members expressed sympathy and condolences to the families of those slain and of the dozens of wounded.
The council said it reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.”
Many of those killed in the attack at the waterside Reina nightclub just 75 minutes into 2017 were foreigners, including an Israeli teenager, identified as Lian Zaher Nasser, 19, from the Arab town of Tira. Another Israeli, 18-year-old Rawa Mansour, also from Tira, was moderately injured.
The assailant shot dead a policeman and a civilian at the club entrance and then turned his gun on partygoers. An estimated 600 people were celebrating inside the club, which is often frequented by famous locals, including singers, actors and sports stars. Several shocked revelers were seen fleeing the scene after the shooting and the music fell silent.
NTV broadcaster said the gunman fired between 120 and 180 rounds in the seven-minute attack, during which many revellers threw themselves into the freezing waters of the Bosphorus to escape death.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the gunman was still at large after slipping away unnoticed after the attack, denying earlier reports a Santa Claus costume had been used as a disguise.
The assailant “left the gun and went away from the scene of the incident,” he told reporters in Istanbul. “It was an armed terrorist.”
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the gunman had arrived with a gun concealed underneath an overcoat but subsequently exited the venue wearing a different garment.
Police and intelligence services were beginning to piece together clues about the attack and the public would be informed soon, Yildirim said.
However, he did not pin the blame on any particular group and no-one has yet claimed responsibility for the bloodshed.
Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin said the attacker “targeted innocent people who had only come here to celebrate the New Year and have fun”.
The attack crystallised fears New Year celebrations could present a tempting target for extremists.