01/02/2017, 09.10
TURKEY
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Istanbul launches manhunt for author of New Year massacre: 39 dead and 69 wounded

A gunman opened fire with a Kalashnikov at Reina nightclub on the Bosphorus. He then escaped without leaving a trace. No official claims, but suspicions focus on the Islamic state. The condolences and prayers by Pope Francis. A bloody 2016 in Turkey.

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The manhunt continues for the  man armed with a Kalashnikov who opened fire at a night club in Istanbul on New Year's Eve, killing 39 people and wounding 69. The assailant, whose identity remains unknown, fired on the crowd present at the Reina nightclub, a well-known nightclub on the Bosphorus, on the European side of the city, to celebrate the new year.

At the time of the attack there were at least 600 people inside the nightclub. After unleashing the massacre, the man managed to get away by taking advantage of the general confusion.

While investigations continue to find the attacker, the first funerals of the victims were held. Over half of the people fallen in the attack, which lasted at least seven minutes, were of foreign nationality. These include Israeli, Russian, French, Tunisian, Lebanese, Indians, Belgians, Jordanians and Saudis. One the security guards on the entrance to the nightclub was one of the first to die.

Meanwhile, investigations continue to shed light on the affair. To date there are no explanations, no official claims behind the attack, although the suspects are concentrated around the Islamic State (IS). The group would be responsible for at least two other bombings last year in Turkey and the jihadist track appears, to date, the most plausible according to investigators.

At first news spread that the bomber was dressed as Santa Claus later denied by the Turkish premier Binail Yldrim. In the same neighborhood, Besiktas, on 10 December there was an attack occurred at the local football stadium, which killed 38 people, another 166 were injured.

Commenting on the New Year attack on the night club Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan pointed the finger at extremist groups seeking "to create disorder." "... They are trying to demoralize our people - said the head of state- and to destabilize our country."

While there are no official claims, official statements from Kurdish movements [particularly the Workers Party of Kurdistan (PKK), accused in the past of violence] have dissociated themselves from the killings. The PKK leader Murat Karayilan said that the Kurdish movement "never targets innocent civilians" in their battles

Among the international messages of condolence there is one from Pope Francis, who yesterday at the Angelus expressed closeness and prayers to the Turkish people victim of the attack. "" Unfortunately, violence has also marked this night of good wishes and hope. Grieved - added the pontiff - I express my closeness to the Turkish people, I pray for the many victims and the injured and for the whole nation in mourning, and I ask the Lord to support all people of good will to boldly address the scourge of terrorism and the bloody stain that envelops the world with a shadow of fear and bewilderment ".

Last year, Turkey has experienced a series of bloody attacks, which began on February 17 with the assault on a military convoy in Ankara. On March 13, 37 people died in a suicide attack by Kurdish militiamen in the capital. And again, on June 28 a bomb attack - perhaps at the hands of the Islamic State – on Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul killed 41 people. On August 20, a bomb attack on a wedding party in Gaziantep, at least 30 victims. Finally, the attack of Kurdish militiamen on a police convoy outside the Besiktas stadium, in Istanbul, on 10 December last, which caused 44 deaths. 

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