Istanbul nightclub: At least 39 dead, 70 injured

ISTANBUL (AP) -- The Latest on a deadly attack on an Istanbul nightclub. (all times local):

   8:10 p.m.

   France's foreign minister says one French citizen was killed and three others wounded in the New Year's shooting attack at a crowded Istanbul nightclub.

   Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in a statement that a woman with both French and Tunisian citizenship died in the attack early Sunday.

   Ayrault says the woman's Tunisian husband also died.

   Due to the presence of French citizens among the casualties, the Paris prosecutor's office says it has opened a criminal investigation for "terrorist murders and attempted murders."

   An assailant opened fire at the Reina nightclub during New Year's celebrations, killing at least 39 people.

   Turkish authorities said foreigners from "many different nationalities" are among the wounded in the attack.

   French President Francois Hollande says in a statement that France "will pitilessly pursue the fight" against terrorism with its allies. 

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   7:45 p.m.

   Saudi Arabia has condemned an attack on an Istanbul nightclub that killed at least 39 people as a kingdom-funded satellite news channel reported the assault left seven Saudis dead and 10 wounded.

   Saudi state media and its Foreign Ministry did not immediately provide their own death tolls or confirm the report Sunday night by the Dubai-based broadcaster Al Arabiya.

   The channel cited the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul for the information. The Associated Press could not immediately reach the embassy for comment.

   The Saudi Foreign Ministry issued a statement denouncing and condemning the shooting attack at the crowded Reina nightclub during New Year's celebrations.

   It said the kingdom is "standing alongside brotherly Turkey against terrorism and extremism."

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   6:30 p.m.

   A Lebanese man says his brother was killed in the Istanbul shooting at a crowded nightclub.

   Charbel Wardini told The Associated Press on Sunday that his 26-year-old brother, Elias, was among the 39 people killed in the attack at the crowded Reina nightclub during New Year's celebrations. 

   Wardini said: "I lost my brother because of terrorism. If you tell me terrorism, I will go fight against them."

   Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said seven Lebanese were wounded in the attack.

   Lebanon's Foreign Ministry reported earlier that the daughter of Parliament Member Estephan El Douaihy was among those injured.

   The Lebanese government plans to send a jet to Istanbul on Sunday night with a medical team and relatives of the wounded in order to bring them back to Beirut.

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   6:15 p.m.

   A Turkish media report says at least seven Saudi nationals and four Iraqis were among the 39 people killed in the Istanbul nightclub attack.

   The private Dogan news agency said Sunday the dead also included two Indians, two Tunisians and one victim each from Canada, Syria, Israel, Lebanon and Belgium.

   There was no immediate confirmation from Turkish officials on the nationalities of the dead.

   Meanwhile, the state-run Anadolu news agency identified a female security guard who was among those killed.

   The agency says 29-year-old Hatice Karcilar as a private security guard at the Reina nightclub. Her body has been taken to her hometown on the coast of the Marmara Sea.

   Andalou says she is survived by her husband and a 3-year-old daughter.

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   6 p.m.

   The United States is denying reports in Turkish new outlets and on social media that its security agencies knew in advance that a nightclub in Istanbul was at risk of a terror attack.

   The U.S. Embassy in Ankara said in a statement issued Sunday that "contrary to rumors circulating in social media, the U.S. Government had no information about threats to specific entertainment venues, including the Reina Club."

   The statement says the U.S. also "did not warn Americans to stay away from specific venues or neighborhoods."

   The Embassy says that on Dec. 22, the U.S. Embassy issued a general "holiday season threat warning" for Turkey and various parts of Europe, "as we do whenever there are indications that American citizens might be targeted or subjected to violence."

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   5:25 p.m.

   Turkish media say the victims of the New Year's attack inside an Istanbul nightclub include a police officer and a travel agent.

   State-run Anadolu news agency reported Sunday that the body of 22-year-old police officer Burak Yildiz was en route to his hometown in the southern city of Mersin.

   Yildiz, who had been on the force for 1 1/2 years, was shot and killed outside the Reina nightclub.

   Private Dogan news agency reports that 47-year-old travel agent Ayhan Arik, a father of two, was another of the first victims of the early morning attack that killed 39 people.

   The news agency says the gunman shot Arik in the head outside the club.

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   5:10 p.m.

   The U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul is warning American citizens to limit their movements in the city in the wake of the bloody nightclub attack.

   The consulate said in a statement Sunday that "security operations are still ongoing in the aftermath of the January 1st gunfire attack at Reina nightclub" and that "U.S. citizens are advised to shelter in place and to limit movements to an absolute minimum."

   It also is urging Americans in Istanbul to keep in close contact with concerned family members in the U.S.

   The statement reminds U.S. citizens that extremists "are continuing aggressive efforts to conduct attacks in areas where U.S. citizens and expatriates reside or frequent."

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   4:50 p.m.

   Turkey's prime minister has denied news reports claiming the gunman who killed 39 people inside an Istanbul nightclub during New Year's celebrations wore a Santa Claus outfit.

   Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters Sunday: "There is no truth to this. He is an armed terrorist as we know it."

   The prime minister also said after visiting the wounded in a hospital that the assailant attacked security personnel outside the club before shooting randomly inside.

   Yildirim says the attacker left a gun inside the venue and escaped by "taking advantage of the chaos" that ensued.

   He says three of the wounded remain in critical condition. 

   The prime minister is vowing to keep fighting terror organizations, but notes that, "The terror that happens here today may happen in another country in the world tomorrow."

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   3:35 p.m.

   Turkey's Minister of Family and Social Policies says foreigners are among the wounded in the attack on an Istanbul nightclub that left at least 39 dead and nearly 70 wounded.

   Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya said: "There are many different nationalities, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya and citizens of other nations." 

   The minister was speaking to the media outside a hospital after visiting the wounded, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency.

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   2:55 p.m.

   Lebanon's Foreign Ministry says three Lebanese citizens were wounded in the Istanbul shooting at a crowded nightclub, including the daughter of a member of parliament.

   The ministry said in a statement Sunday carried by state media that the three Lebanese were lightly wounded. It said they were the daughter of legislator Estephan El Douaihy and two men.

   Lebanese President Michel Aoun condemned the attack in a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying all countries should coordinate in fighting terrorism.

   The assailant opened fire at the crowded nightclub during New Year's celebrations, killing at least 39 people and wounding dozens.

   Turkey is a major destination for Lebanese tourists. 

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   2:50 p.m.

   Pope Francis has decried the New Year's attack in Istanbul that was carried out on what he called a "night of good-wishes and hope."

   Francis told pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square Sunday that he was close in prayer to the many dead and to their families, to the wounded and to the entire Turkish people.

   A gunman fired on New Year's revelers in an Istanbul night club early Sunday, killing 39 and wounding about 70 people, before fleeing.

   Francis lamented that so many people in the world were left grieving because of terrorism.

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   2:40 p.m.

   CCTV footage shows that the assailant in a nightclub shooting in Istanbul wore a Santa Claus hat for part of the attack, which unfolded despite increased security measures.

   The footage, obtained by AP from Haberturk newspaper, shows the male assailant dressed in black and carrying a backpack as he shoots down a police officer outside the Reina nightclub.

   Footage taken by a different camera shows him inside the swanky club in Istanbul's Ortakoy neighborhood wearing different clothes and a Santa Claus hat.

   Reina owner Mehmet Kocarslan, interviewed by the private Dogan news agency, said police had boosted security measures in the upscale neighborhood of Ortakoy and its vicinity.

   The measures included tents at key locations with a 24-hour police presence and complementary efforts by the coast guard at sea.

   "Despite all these precautions by police forces, unfortunately this painful event took place. We don't know what to say," he added. "We are at the point where all words end."

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   2:30 p.m.

   An Israeli woman has been identified as one of the 39 victims of the shooting attack in an Istanbul nightclub.

   Israel's foreign ministry confirms that 18-year-old Leanne Nasser from the Israeli-Arab town of Tira was killed.

   Nasser was celebrating with three friends at the Reina nightclub when the gunman broke in and opened fire. Her friend Ruaa Mansour, also 18, was moderately wounded in the attack. The other two friends were unharmed.

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   1:45 p.m.

   Heavily armed police are blocking the snowy street in front of Istanbul's Reina nightclub, where a gunman killed at least 39 people and wounded almost 70 hours earlier.

   The entrance is covered with blue plastic sheeting below a Turkish flag. Crime scene Investigators were seen inside searching through piles of mingled chairs, tables and pieces of clothing left behind during the panic among the guests. Turkish police boats were patrolling the Asian side of the Bosporus on the other side of the club.

   There were some emotional scenes in front of a city morgue where those shot dead were brought for identification. Some relatives cried out and fell to the ground as they apparently learned the fate of their loved ones.

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   1:35 p.m.

   Italy's foreign minister says unity among countries and continents is needed to combat terror.

   Minister Angelino Alfano in tweets Sunday says the Istanbul New Year's nightclub attack that killed 39 people "reminds us that the fight against terror doesn't stop for any holiday or celebration."

   He says "tears aren't enough."

   Instead, Alfano says: "We must keep fighting against terror. To fight, together, to defend our freedom."

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   1:10 p.m.

   German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sent her condolences to the victims of the Istanbul attack, saying "terrorists ... have carried out an inhumane and devious attack on people who wanted to celebrate the New Year together."

   "My thoughts this morning are with the victims, their families and friends," she said.

   German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also condemned the killing of 39 people at a nightclub in Istanbul, calling it a "cruel and cowardly attack."

   Steinmeier said in a statement Sunday that Germany "condemns this act and all forms of terrorism with all severity."

   He says Germany "stands by Turkey's side in these difficult hours," expressing condolences to those who lost loved ones and wishing the injured a speedy and total recovery.

   Diplomats say it is unclear yet whether any Germans are among the victims.

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   12:45 p.m.

   Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the attack on an Istanbul nightclub that left at least 39 people dead and nearly 70 wounded, saying Turkey will relentlessly continue fighting terror.

   Erdogan said in a written statement Sunday: "I vehemently condemn the terror attack in Istanbul's Ortakoy neighborhood in the first hours of 2017."

   Offering his condolences for those who lost their lives, including "foreign guests," Erdogan says "Turkey continues its combat against terror and is absolutely determined to do whatever is necessary in the region to ensure its citizens safety and peace."

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   12:35 p.m.

   Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent Turkey's president a telegram of condolences, denouncing the Istanbul nightclub attack.

   "It is hard to imagine a more cynical crime than killing innocent people during New Year celebrations," Putin said in the message to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Kremlin said Sunday.

   "However, terrorists don't share moral values. Our common duty is to combat terrorists' aggression," Putin said.

   Nordic and Baltic leaders reacted on Twitter, with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius saying "terrorist cowards can kill, but can't win."

   Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite sent her "heartfelt condolences," while Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven called the attack "awful."

   In Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said it was a "cowardly armed attack toward innocent civilians."

   There were no immediate reports of casualties from the region among the foreign victims.

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   11:15 a.m.

   Mehmet Dag, 22, was passing by the club where a gunman killed at least 39 people and wounded nearly 70 in Istanbul and saw the suspect shoot at a police officer and a bystander.

   "I was in shock at the scene," he said. Dag says the suspect then targeted security, gunning them down and entering the club. "Once he went in, we don't know what happened. There were gun sounds and after two minutes, the sound of an explosion."

   Istanbul's governor said the attacker, armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian outside Istanbul's popular Reina club at around 1:15 a.m. before entering and firing on people partying inside.

   IPhone footage filmed by Dag and obtained by The Associated Press shows a police officer lying on the ground outside the club, and then a woman. Dag tells the woman, who is lying on the floor face down in a pool of blood, "my sister, you will get better." He calls for an ambulance. Footage shows ambulances and the lights of an Istanbul bridge when the sound of gunfire rings out inside the club.

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   9:20 a.m.

   Turkey's interior minister has lowered the number of foreign nationals killed in the Istanbul nightclub attack to 15.

   Suleyman Soylu meanwhile says of the five Turkish fatalities identified so far, three or four were believed to be employees working at the club.

   He says: "This was a massacre, a truly inhuman savagery."

   The minister says the attacker was believed to have left the club wearing "different clothing" to those he entered the club in. He says the attacker is believed to have carried out the assault alone.

   Health Minister Recep Akdag also said that four of the injured were in "very serious condition" and the wounded also included several foreigners.

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   7:55 a.m.

   Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has raised the death toll in the Istanbul nightclub attack to 39.

   The minister said Sunday that of the victims identified so far 16 were foreign nationals. He did not provide any information on their countries.

   Soylu said the attacker was still at large and that 69 people were being treated in hospitals following the shooting.

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   7:20 a.m.

   A handful of WNBA players, including Essence Carson, Chelsea Gray and Jantel Lavender of the Los Angeles Sparks, were next door to the deadly shooting at a nightclub in Istanbul.

   Sparks coach Brian Agler confirmed to The Associated Press that Carson had texted him that the three players were OK.

   An assailant believed to have been dressed in a Santa Claus costume opened fire at a nightclub during New Year's celebrations, killing at least 35 people and wounding 40 others in what the province's governor described as a terror attack.

   Carson had tweeted earlier in the evening that she was "stuck inside of the club because of `terror' shooting in Istanbul. Praises to the most high."

   About two dozen WNBA players are in Turkey during their offseason playing in a league there.

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   4:50 a.m.

   The White House is condemning what it calls a "horrific terrorist attack" in Istanbul and offering U.S. help to Turkey.

   White House spokesman Eric Schultz says Obama was briefed on the attack by his national security team and asked to be updated as the situation develops. Obama is vacationing in Hawaii this week with his family.

   White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price says the attack on "innocent revelers" celebrating New Year's shows the attackers' savagery. He says the U.S. sends thoughts and prayers to the relatives of those killed.

   Price says the U.S. supports its NATO ally Turkey as both countries fight terrorism.

   The assailant is believed to have been dressed as Santa Claus when he killed 35 people and wounded 40 more at an Istanbul nightclub.

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   4:30 a.m.

   Eyewitness Sinem Uyanik told the Associated Press she saw several bodies inside the Istanbul nightclub that was attacked during New Year's celebrations.

   Her husband Lutfu Uyanik was wounded in the attack. "Before I could understand what was happening, my husband fell on top me," she said outside Istanbul's Sisli Hospital. "I had to lift several bodies from on top of me before I could get out."

   Her husband was not in serious condition despite his wounds.

   Istanbul Gov. Vasip Sahin said the attack left at least 35 people dead and 40 wounded.
 


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