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Death Toll in New Year's Day Attack on Istanbul Nightclub Rises to 39

Update: The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Photo via NTV Twitter.

[Update, January 2]: The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. The Aamaq News Agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic State, said the attack was in response to Turkish military operations in Syria and Iraq.

[Update, January 1]: NBC News reports the attack was caused by a lone gunman. The gunman is still at large.

[Update, January 17]: The state-run Anadolu news agency reports the main suspect, Abdulgadir Masharipov, was captured late Monday night during a police operation on a residence in Istanbul's Esenyurt district, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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An attacker believed to be dressed in a Santa Claus suit opened fire inside of an Istanbul nightclub on New Year's Day, killing 39 people and wounding 69, according to the New York Times. Istanbul Provincec Governor Vasip Sahin has called the incident a terrorist attack, according to state media Anadolu Agency.

According to reports from the New York Times, the attack took place around 1:45am Istanbul time in the Reina nightclub. Reina was reportedly a popular destination for international travelers and celebrities. "In terms of the soft-target aspects of this attack, it's a youthful place, a bar that's pretty well-known in particular to expats," said Juliette Kayyem, CNN's national security analyst.

The attacker reportedly fired at police outside of the nightclub before entering the club.Nearly 600 people were inside of the club at the time of the attack.

"Inside he rained bullets brutally, mercilessly over innocent people who were there just to celebrate the new year and have fun," Sahin said.

Thirty-eight of the 39 victims have been identified and 11 of them were Turkish nationals. Seven victims were from Saudi Arabia. Three were from Lebanon and Iraq. Two each were from Tunisia, India, Morocco, and Jordan. Kuwait, Canada, Israel, Syria and Russia also lost one person each. Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya was quoted by Anadolu and said most of the victims were, "from different countries - Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Libya."

Suleyman Soylu, Turkey's Minister of the Interior, told reporters local police have "launched operations" for a manhunt for the gunman. "This was a massacre, a truly inhuman savagery," Soylu said.

THUMP will update this story as more info is released.