Turkish officials said at least 35 people were killed and dozens more wounded when gunmen disguised in Santa suits opened fire inside an Istanbul nightclub on New Year's Eve.
CNN Turk reported the attack took place at a nightclub in the Besiktas neighborhood. The European Pressphoto Agency reported the name of the nightclub as Reina, a popular spot for young people. Images from the scene showed a heavy police presence around the perimeter of the club.
The New York Times reported the club was packed with an estimated 600 patrons when shots rang out around 1:15 a.m. local time.
The state-run Anadula news agency quoted Istanbul Gov. Vasip Sahin, saying a gunman shot a police officer providing security and another person to gain entry to the club, where civilians were targeted "by spraying bullets on innocent people who were celebrating the New Year."
Sahin called the incident a "terror attack."
The Hurriyet Daily News reported club patrons began jumping into the waters of the Bosporus Strait to escape the shooting. The high-end club is a frequent destination for celebrities visiting Istanbul and sits on the shore of the Bosporus, which separates Europe and Asia. The club lies in the heart of a vibrant food and nightclub district frequented by international tourists.
The Times reported Turkish officials had stepped up security efforts surrounding New Year's Eve celebrations after warnings from U.S. intelligence officials in the days prior that an attack was possible.
The attackers have not been identified and it was unclear how many people were involved in the plot. Initial reports suggested as many as three shooters. It was also not immediately known if they remain at large or were killed by police responding to the incident.