ISIS claims responsibility for Istanbul nightclub attack

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the deadly New Year’s Eve attack in Istanbul. The terrorist is still at large.

The Islamic State (ISIS) on Monday claimed responsibility for the New Year’s attack at a popular Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people and wounded scores more.

The ISIS-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.”

It said the terrorist opened fire from an automatic rifle in “revenge for God’s religion and in response to the orders” of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The terrorist group described Turkey as “the servant of the cross.”

Earlier in the day, Turkish media reported that authorities believe ISIS was behind the attack. Reports in the Hurriyet and Karar newspapers on Monday cited unnamed security officials saying that authorities have determined that the terrorist who killed 39 people comes from a Central Asian nation and is believed to be either from Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan.

Police had also established similarities with the high-casualty attack at Ataturk Airport in June and was investigating whether the same ISIS cell carried out both attacks.

ISIS, which has been linked to several deadly attacks in Turkey in the past year, usually targets civilians in mass attacks, while Kurdish PKK militants, who are also responsible for several attacks in the country, usually target security forces.

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The mass shooting followed more than 30 violent acts over the past year in Turkey, which is a member of the NATO alliance and a partner in the US-led coalition fighting against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The country endured multiple bombings in 2016, including three in Istanbul alone that authorities blamed on ISIS, a failed coup attempt in July and renewed conflict with Kurdish rebels in the southeast.

ISIS claims to have cells in the country. Analysts believe it was behind suicide bombings last January and March that targeted tourists on Istanbul’s iconic Istiklal Street, which killed three Israeli tourists as well as the attack at Ataturk Airport in June, which claimed 45 lives.

In December, ISIS released a video purportedly showing the killing of two Turkish soldiers, urging its supporters to “conquer” Istanbul. Turkey’s jets regularly bomb the terrorist group in the northern Syrian town of Al-Bab. Turkish authorities have not confirmed the authenticity of the video.

Terrorist Still at Large

The terrorist, who is still at large, killed a policeman and another man outside the Reina club in the early hours of 2017 before firing at people partying inside. He is believed to have fled Turkey.

Nearly two thirds of the dead were foreigners, including an Israeli woman, Lian Zaher Nassar, 19.

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Nassar was celebrating New Year’s Eve with three friends at the nightclub. Ruaa Mansour, 18, was moderately wounded in the attack. The other two friends were unharmed.

Mansour arrived in Israel Sunday night and is being treated at Kfar Saba’s Meir hospital.

Nassar’s body will be flown home on Monday for burial.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff