ISTANBUL, Turkey, Jan. 2 (UPI) — Authorities in Turkey continue to search for the gunman who opened fire at a night club in Istanbul on New Year’s Day, while the Islamic State took credit for the attack about 24 hours later.
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, took credit for a shooting at the Reina nightclub that killed 39 and injured 70, issuing a statement early Sunday calling the shooter “a heroic soldier” for opening fire at the crowded venue.
Authorities in Turkey are analyzing intelligence as they hunt for the shooter in the latest of a string of terror attacks in the country dating to early 2015.
“In continuation of the blessed operations which ISIS carries out against Turkey, a soldier of the brave caliphate attacked one of the most popular nightclubs while Christians were celebrating their holiday,” the Islamic State said in the statement.
The gunman took a cab to the club and entered through an entrance with a long-barrelled gun in hand, firing up to 180 bullets randomly at people for about seven minutes.
Early after the attack, there was speculation that the Kurdistan Worker’s Party had perpetrated the act but they released a statement distancing themselves from it because they support democracy, as compared to the religious authoritarianism of the Islamic State.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the terror group is looking “to create chaos,” as well as to “demoralize our people and destabilize our country.”