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IS claims Istanbul attack, manhunt for attacker continues

Ankara: The Islamic State (IS) terror group on Monday claimed responsibility for the New Year attack on a Turkish nightclub that killed 39 people, while a manhunt for the lone gunman continues.

The group in a statement said the attack was carried out by “a heroic soldier”, the BBC reported.

At least 600 revellers were celebrating in the early hours of Sunday at Istanbul’s Reina nightclub on the bank of the Bosporus river when the gunman began firing indiscriminately.

According to Turkish authorities, the gunman fired up to 180 bullets.

A manhunt for the man, who escaped and remained unidentified, is under way, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu confirmed.

“We hope the attacker will be captured soon,” he said.

The identities of 35 victims killed in the attack have been confirmed — 24 have been identified as foreign citizens, while 11 were reported to be Turkish citizens, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The foreign victims were identified as seven Saudi Arabian nationals, two Indians, one Canadian, one Syrian, one Israeli, two Tunisians, four Iraqis, one Lebanese and one Belgian.

As the search continued, the first funerals were held on Sunday.

Istanbul was already on high alert with some 17,000 police officers on duty in the city, following a string of terror attacks in recent months.