The terror attack on New Year’s Eve in a Turkish night club has claimed the lives of two Indian nationals.
According to Turkish government estimates, at least 35 people were killed in the armed attack on the Reina nightclub in the Ortakoy district of Istanbul.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted, “I have a bad news from Turkey. We have lost two Indian nationals in the Istanbul attack. Indian Ambassador is on way to Istanbul.”
I have a bad news from Turkey. We have lost two Indian nationals in the Istanbul attack. Indian Ambassador is on way to Istanbul. /1— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) January 1, 2017
The victims are Mr.Abis Rizvi son of former Rajya Sabha MP and Ms.Khushi Shah from Gujarat. /2— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) January 1, 2017
Swaraj identified the victims as Abis Rizvi, son of a former Rajya Sabha MP and Khusi Shah.
"Unfortunately, at least 35 of our citizens lost their lives. One was a police officer. Forty people are receiving treatment in hospitals," Istanbul Governor told reporters at the nightclub.
"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," he added.
There were hundreds of people celebrating the New Year in the nightclub when the attack occurred.
One witness told the Associated Press she saw bodies in the nightclub following the attack. "Before I could understand what was happening, my husband fell on top me," said the witness outside Istanbul's Sisli hospital. "I had to lift several bodies from on top of me before I could get out." The witness' husband was not in serious condition.
Broadcaster CNN Türk and German press agency DPA said the attack was carried out by at least two attackers who were wearing Santa Claus outfits who opened fire with automatic weapons. There are reports that one attacker is still inside the building. Turkish special forces were searching the building in order to catch the attacker, according to Turkish broadcaster NTV.
The Reina nightclub stands near the Ataturk bridge on the European side of the Bosphorus Strait that splits Istanbul in two. Some celebrating New Year's at the nightclub jumped into the frigid water to avoid the attack. Rescue crews are working to rescue those who jumped into the strait.
Turkish authorities imposed a temporary blackout on coverage of the attack, which prevents media organizations from broadcasting or publishing anything that includes the "moment of attack; aftermath of the attack and site of the crime; public servants conducting their jobs; injured and dead."
Security was high in Istanbul following a year filled with violent attacks by the so-called Islamic State (IS) or Kurdish groups that killed more than 180 people. At least 17,000 police officers were on duty for New Year's celebrations in Turkey's largest city, some under cover as street vendors or Santa Claus.
Turkish Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag tweeted "This is a cowardly and cruel terrorist attack against our Turkey, our peace, our unity, our brotherhood and all of us."