IS claims responsibility for the Istanbul nightclub attack that killed 39 people

Turkish police secure the area at Ortakoy district under Bosphorus Bridge near night club Reina in Istanbul, January 1, 2017. Photo: Stringer/Getty Images.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack on a nightclub in Istanbul that killed 39 people.

The gunman, believed to have been dressed in a Santa Claus costume, shot dead a police officer and a civilian outside the nightclub before entering.

Witnesses from the New Year’s party in Reina, say the gunman, who reportedly fired non-stop for 20 minutes, continued to shoot the wounded as they lay on the ground as he shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest).

Forensic officers (unseen) work inside the Reina night club, one of the Istanbul’s most exclusive party spots, early on January 1, 2017 a gunmen went on a shooting rampage during New Year’s Eve celebrations. Photo: Ozan Kose/ AFP/ Getty Images.

The lone gunman is still at large.

A state-run news agency says Turkish police have detained eight people in connection with the attack. They are being questioned at Istanbul’s main police headquarters.

Turkey’s deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus said the gunman wasn’t among the eight, but police have a fingerprint and other evidence to identify the attacker.

The IS-linked Aamaq News Agency said the attack was carried by a “heroic soldier of the caliphate who attacked the most famous nightclub where Christians were celebrating their pagan feast”.

The attack has similar characteristics of that carried out by the terrorists that killed 130 people in Paris, attacking the Bataclan music hall, bars and restaurants in November 2015.

Turkish special force police officers and ambulances are seen at the site of an armed attack January 1, 2017 in Istanbul. Photo: Yasin Akgul/ AFP/ Getty Images.

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