1 Jan 2017

Manhunt under way for Istanbul nightclub attacker

7:56 pm on 1 January 2017

At least 39 people, including more than a dozen foreigners, have lost their lives in a New Year's Eve attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey's interior minister has said.

The minister, Suleyman Soylu, also revealed police were still hunting for the "terrorist" who carried out the attack.

Turkish special force police officers and ambulances are seen at the site of an armed attack January 1, 2017 in Istanbul.

Special force officers stand guard outside the club, in the Ortakoy district of Istanbul - Turkey's most populous city. Photo: AFP

Twenty-one of the dead had been identified, and 15 or 16 of them were foreigners, Mr Soylu said.

At least another 69 people were being treated in hospital, and four were in a critical condition.

The city's governor, Vasip Sahin, earlier said one police officer had died in the attack, which took place in the Reina nightclub, in the Ortakoy area, about 1.30am local time (11.30am NZT).

The Turkish authorities have imposed a media blackout on coverage of the attack.

One attacker was involved, Mr Sahin said. Some reports have suggested there were multiple attackers, including CNN Turk, which reported they were dressed in Santa Claus costumes.

"A terrorist with a long-range weapon ... brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun," the governor told reporters at the scene of the upmarket club, which sits on the banks of Bosphorus in the city's European side.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there was no indication at this stage that any New Zealanders had been caught up in the massacre.

There are 109 New Zealanders registered as being in Turkey.

Turkish special force police officers and ambulances are seen at the site of an armed attack on 1 January, 2017 in Istanbul.

The shootings took place about 1.30am local time (11.30am NZT). Photo: AFP

There were reportedly as many as 700 people in the nightclub at the time of the attack, some of whom were believed to have jumped into the river to escape.

News agency Dogan reported some witnesses claimed the attackers were "speaking Arabic" while Turkish television channel NTV said special force police officers were searching the nightclub.

At least 39 people, including 16 foreigners, were killed in the New Year's Eve gun attack, the Turkish interior minister has said.

At least 69 people were hospitalised after the attack, four of them in a critical condition. Photo: AFP

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.

Many were carried out by so-called Islamic State (IS) or Kurdish militants.

Less than a fortnight ago, the Russian ambassador, Andrei Karlov, was shot dead by off-duty Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas as he gave a speech in the capital Ankara in December.

After the shooting, the killer shouted the murder was in revenge for Russian involvement in the conflict in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Deadly attacks in Turkey in 2016

- BBC / Reuters

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