2017 Istanbul nightclub attack
||This article documents a recent terrorist attack. Information may change rapidly as the event progresses, and initial news reports may be unreliable. The last updates to this article may not reflect the most current information. (January 2017)|
|2017 Istanbul nightclub attack|
|Part of the Turkey–ISIL conflict|
The Reina nightclub in Istanbul in 2012
|Date||1 January 2017
|Target||Patrons at Reina nightclub|
|Mass shooting, Islamist terrorism|
|Assailants||Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)|
A mass shooting occurred at a nightclub in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, Turkey, on 1 January 2017. The attack occurred at about 01:15 FET (UTC+3) at the Reina nightclub in Ortaköy, where hundreds of people were celebrating the New Year. At least 39 people were killed and at least 70 were injured in the incident.
Since the summer of 2016, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been under pressure with notable territorial losses due to three parallel offensives: the Turkish-FSA Western al-Bab offensive and Battle of al-Bab, the Kurdish Northern Raqqa offensive, and the Iraqi Battle of Mosul in Iraq. The Turkish military intervention in Syria has been the first frontal opposition between ISIL and the Turkish army, heating up tensions.
Before the incident, there were heightened security measures in the city, with 17,000 police officers on duty, following several terrorist attacks in the area, such as the attack on the Istanbul Atatürk Airport on 28 June 2016 which killed 48 people, and a bombing at the Vodafone Arena on 10 December 2016 which killed 46.
According to Reina's owner, security measures at the nightclub had been increased over the previous ten days after American intelligence officials warned about an attack over the holidays. The US embassy later denied that it had prior intelligence, dismissing such claims as "rumours on social media".
A gunman opened fire in the nightclub at about 01:15. He reportedly carried an AK-47 rifle and, after killing a police officer and a bystander at the entrance, he entered the club shooting. The attacker reportedly spoke Arabic as the attack was taking place, and shouted the Arabic phrase "Allāhu akbar" during the attack. He reportedly fired more than 180 rounds during the seven minute attack before going to the kitchen, changing his clothes and escaping by blending in with the crowd.
Although initial eyewitness testimonies reported by the Turkish media described up to three attackers, the police insist that they are only on the lookout for one. Earlier reports of hand grenades being used were shown to be inaccurate. Police stormed the building, but Turkish authorities state that the attacker is still at large, with a manhunt underway. Authorities had earlier claimed that one gunman entered the nightclub and was later killed by the police. The attacker left the weapon at the scene.
At the time of the attack, about 600 people were at the nightclub to celebrate the New Year. Thirty-nine people were killed, including the police officer on duty at the club entrance. At least 70 others were injured. A number of people jumped into the waters of the Bosphorus strait to escape the attack. In the aftermath, police set up a cordon around the nightclub.
Uyghur workers at a restaurant in Zeytinburnu provided money to the terrorist for his taxi fare. The Seferoğlu Sokak-based Uyghurs in Zeytinburnu aided the attacker when he fled the nightclub. Seven Uyghurs were arrested by Turkish police. Zeytinburnu became the site of over 50 police sweeps against "East Turkistanis" (Uyghurs), Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Uzbeks. Zeytinburnu is infamous for being used by Syria destined jihadists as a transit point. Kygyzstani and Kazakhstani residences and properties were investigated by the Turks in the aftermath.[better source needed] Multiple Uighurs were seized and detained outside of Istanbul in Selimpasa by Turkey after they were linked to the assault on the nightclub. Kyrgyz passports were used to go to Turkey by Uighurs with both ISIS and Al-Qaeda being joined in Syria by Uighurs. Uighurs were also seized in Izmir where 36 suspects were detained Kyrgyzstan passports were used by several families from "East Turkestan" with 20 children, and 22 women and men, all of whom were among 40 arrested by Turkish security forces in Izmir's Bornova and Buca districts. Weapons were found with the Izmir suspects. Xinjiang was where the Uighurs in Izmir originated from. The authorities in Turkey said a Uighur carried out the assault on the nightclub. He was named as a Uighur by Veysi Kaynak, Deputy Prime Minister. The attack was reported as Uighur by Haber Turk.
ISIL officially claimed responsibility and released a statement claiming the attacker was a soldier of ISIL who had "struck one of the most famous nightclubs where the Christians celebrate their apostate holiday". ISIL also took the unusual step of claiming responsibility directly, saying in a statement that the attack was carried out "in continuation of the blessed operations that the Islamic State is conducting against Turkey, the protector of the cross", and accused Turkey of killing Muslims via "air strikes and mortar attacks" in Syria. The statement does not specify whether the attack was directly organized by ISIL, or whether the group had simply inspired the gunman.
Security sources told Reuters that the gunman "has experience in combat" and that "he could have been fighting in Syria for years" on behalf of ISIL. Hürriyet Daily News noted that a number of specialists who examined the footage claimed that the gunman was professionally trained on how to use his weapon, with anti-terrorism expert Abdullah Ağar saying that "The attacker is determined, faithful, practical, coldblooded, expert and knows how to get results. He probably fired these bullets before in real clash zones. He had no hesitation in shooting at innocent people. He is absolutely a killer and he most probably shot at humans before."
On 2 January, Turkish police arrested eight people in connection with the attack; the gunman was not among them. Police said they believed the attack was carried out by the same ISIL cell that targeted Atatürk Airport in June 2016.
A day after the attack occurred, Turkish media stated that Turkish authorities believe the attacker is from Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan. Initial reports had suggested that he was from the Xinjiang region of China, a possibility which Habertürk states officials are still investigating.
On 3 January, it was alleged that the man accused of the attack was from Kyrgyzstan. That same day, Turkish media released a self-shot video of the alleged gunman at Taksim Square, Istanbul. The video was taken by a pro-ISIS Telegram account according to Flashpoint, a business risk intelligence company from the United States.
Sixteen people have been held under suspicion in connection to the attack.On 4 January, it was revealed that the sixteen people who were held in suspicion of the attack live in the Bornova and Buca districts of Izmir. Eleven of them were identified as women.
Vasip Şahin, the governor of Istanbul, described the attack as a "violent and cruel act of terror" and said that the attacker had used a "long-range weapon" to "brutally and savagely" fire on people, referring to a type of assault rifle.
In line with recent Erdogan claims, some citizen, journalists, and pro-APK journals such as Sabah put forward conspiracy theories, claiming Western countries, the American CIA, as organising the attack. The over-simplification and gluing together of the current 3 distinct Turkish crisis —the 2016 coup, the Kurdish clashes, and the open military conflict with ISIS— was pointed out by journalists.
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- السبيل دوت نت
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