Some people jumped into the Bosphorus waters to save themselves after the attacker opened fire at random just over an hour into the new year, according to officials.
The city’s governor described the mass shooting as a terror attack, the latest to shake Turkey in a year of bloodshed, and it was not immediately clear whether one attacker or several participated. Gov. Vasip Sahin said the attacker, armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian outside the club before entering and firing on people partying inside.
“Unfortunately, (he) rained bullets in a very cruel and merciless way on innocent people who were there to celebrate New Year’s and have fun,” Sahin told reporters.
Authorities launched a search for the attacker, who has not been identified.
“Our security forces have started the necessary operations. God willing he will be caught in a short period of time,” said Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.
The incident bore echoes of an attack by militant Islamists on Paris’s Bataclan music hall in November 2015 that, along with assaults on bars and restaurants, killed 130 people.
The Reina club is one of Istanbul’s best known nightspots, popular with locals and foreigners alike. It overlooks the Bosphorus Strait separating Europe and Asia in the city’s cosmopolitan Ortakoy district.