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New UN chief slams Istanbul terror attack

UNITED NATIONS—UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Sunday condemned the “despicable” terrorist attack at a nightclub that killed 39 people in Istanbul, Turkey.

According to a statement of the spokesman for the secretary-general, Guterres extended his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

He also expressed his solidarity with the government and people of Turkey and of those countries whose nationals were affected.

Guterres expressed the hope that the perpetrators of the attack would be identified and brought to justice swiftly.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
A gunman stormed into the Reina nightclub early Sunday morning and shot at hundreds of people gathering there for New Year celebrations, leaving at least 39 killed and over 60 others injured.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said no Filipino was killed or injured in the nightclub attack.

Jose said Philippine Embassy personnel checked all hospitals where victims were rushed and also called funeral parlor to see if there were any Filipino casualties.

Most of the survivors jumped into the nearby Bosphorus waters to save themselves after the attacker opened fire at random in the Reina nightclub just over an hour into the new year. There were reports that the attacker shouted in Arabic as he opened fire at Reina.

Turkey is part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State and launched an incursion into Syria in August to drive the radical Sunni militants from its borders. It also helped broker a fragile ceasefire in Syria with Russia.

Reports said that 15 or 16 of those killed at Reina were foreigners but only 21 bodies had so far been identified, while 69 people were in hospital, four of them in critical condition.

Nationals of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya, Israel and Belgium were among those killed, officials said. French men in the bloody attack were wounded.

The New Year’s Day attack came five months after a failed military coup, in which more than 240 people were killed, many of them in Istanbul, as rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets in a bid to seize power.

More than 100,000 people, including soldiers and police officers, have been sacked or suspended in a subsequent crackdown ordered by Erdogan, raising concern both about civic rights and the effectiveness of Turkey’s security apparatus.

On Dec. 28, the Nashir Media Foundation, which backs Islamic State, urged sympathizers to carry out attacks in Europe during the holiday period and to “replace their fireworks with explosive belts and devices, and turn their singing and clapping into weeping and wailing.”

A month ago, a spokesman for Islamic State urged supporters to target “the secular, apostate Turkish government.”

Turkey has seen repeated attacks in recent weeks. On Dec. 10, two bombs claimed by Kurdish militants exploded outside a soccer stadium in Istanbul, killing 44 people.

A car bomb killed at least 13 soldiers and wounded 56 when it ripped through a bus carrying off-duty military personnel in the central city of Kayseri a week later, an attack Erdogan also blamed on Kurdish militants.

The Russian ambassador to Turkey was shot dead as he gave a speech in Ankara on Dec. 19 by an off-duty police officer who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo” and “Allahu Akbar.”

In June, around 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded as three suspected Islamic State militants carried out a gun and bomb attack on Istanbul’s main Ataturk airport. 

Topics: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres , Terrorist attack , Istanbul terror attack , Turkey , Reina nightclub , Charles Jose , Islamic State group

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