ISTANBUL — The Islamic State group on Monday claimed responsibility for a deadly rampage at an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Eve, an assault that left at least 39 people dead, many of them foreigners from the Middle East.
The statement from the group was
circulated on social media early
Monday, and said a “heroic soldier of the caliphate” attacked the nightclub in “revenge for God’s religion and in response to the orders ” of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al – Baghdadi to target Christians in Turkey.
The reclusive leader released an audio message in November slamming Turkish involvement in operations against the group, and calling on his followers to stage attacks in Turkey and draw the country into the wider conflict.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Interior Ministry, announced that 147
people have been detained for their
connections to the Islamic State, with 25 formally arrested.
The Islamic State said the gunman
“struck one of the most famous
nightclubs” where “Christians
celebrate their idolatrous holiday,”
Monday’s statement said, adding that the assailant attacked revelers using grenades and a rifle.
The nightclub, called Reina, is popular with Istanbul’s elite, and citizens from nearly a dozen countries were killed in the carnage on Sunday, including from across the Middle East. Patrons described scenes of horror as bodies crumpled around them, and others jumped into the Bosphorus to escape the bloodbath.