No clarity yet on responsibility for Istanbul attack: Turkish PM

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Turkish authorities are starting to uncover evidence about a gun attack on an Istanbul nightclub which killed 39 people on Sunday but there is no clarity yet on who was responsible, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.

“Some details have started emerging, but the authorities are working towards a concrete result,” Yildirim told reporters when asked about who might have been behind the attack.

“Police and security officials will share information as it becomes available during the investigation,” he said.

Earlier, as many as 39 people, including 16 foreigners, were killed when a gunman reportedly dressed as Santa Claus stormed an Istanbul club as revellers were celebrating the New Year, the latest carnage to rock Turkey after a bloody 2016.

The assailant shot dead a policeman and a civilian at the entrance to the Reina club, one of the city’s most exclusive nightspots, and then went on a shooting rampage inside, Turkish officials said.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the attacker escaped and was now the target of a major manhunt, expressing hope the suspect “would be captured soon”.

Soylu said in televised comments that of 21 victims who have been identified so far, 16 are foreigners and five are Turks. Another 69 people are being treated in hospital.

“The attacker — in the most brutal and merciless way — targeted innocent people who had only come here to celebrate the New Year and have fun,” Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said at the scene on the shores of the Bosphorus.

Many revellers threw themselves into the water in panic and efforts were under way to rescue them, NTV television said.

Dogan news agency said there were two gunmen dressed in Santa Claus outfits, although this has yet to be confirmed.

Erdogan says the attack sought to create chaos

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday’s attack sought to create chaos in Turkey.

“They are working to destroy our country’s morale and create chaos by deliberately targeting our nation’s peace and targeting civilians with these heinous attacks,” Erdogan said in a statement on the presidency website.

The attack began just over an hour into the New Year. It comes after a bloody 2016 after Turkey suffered a string of terror attacks in Istanbul and elsewhere at the hands of Kurdish militants and Islamic State extremists, leaving hundreds dead.

But Erdogan vowed that Turkey would continue its fight against terrorism.

“Turkey is determined to continue to fight to the end against terror and to do whatever is necessary to ensure the security of its citizens and secure peace in the region,” he said.

He added that Turkey would deploy any means, from military, economic and political to social, against “terror organisations” and the countries supporting them, without giving details on which groups or nations he was referring to.