Sunday, 1 January 2017

Suspect at large after New Year's mass shooting at Turkey nightclub


  • Turkish police are hunting a gunman who entered a crowded nightclub in Istanbul and opened fire, killing at least 39 people and wounding 69 others.
    The gunman shot his way into the Reina nightclub around 1:15 a.m., just over an hour into the new year, killing a police officer and a civilian as he entered before opening fire at random inside.
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    Relatives attend the funeral of Ayhan Arik, a victim of the nightclub attack. Turkish media say he had driven tourists to the club and was near the door when he and a 21-year-old police officer were shot and killed. (Osman Orsal/Reuters)
    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the attack, saying Turkey will relentlessly continue fighting such violence.
    "I vehemently condemn the terror attack in Istanbul's Ortakoy neighbourhood in the first hours of 2017," he said in a written statement Sunday.
    Offering his condolences for those who lost their lives, including "foreign guests," Erdogan says "Turkey continues its combat against terror and is absolutely determined to do whatever is necessary in the region to ensure its citizens safety and peace."
    "The people of Turkey are deeply hurt and saddened by the brutal armed attack against vulnerable individuals during the first hours of the new year," said Turkey's Religious Affairs President Mehmet Gormez.
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    Turkish police secure the area at Ortakoy district under Bosphorus Bridge near night club Reina on Sunday following the attack that left 39 dead and nearly 70 others wounded. (Getty Images)
    "The action is savagery, horrendous. The action is a murder and a massacre," he said.
    Mehmet Dag, 22, was passing by the club and saw the suspect, armed with what's believed to be a Kalashnikov rifle, shoot a police officer and a bystander.
    Mass shooting at Istanbul nightclub1:42
    "I was in shock at the scene," he said. Dag said the suspect then targeted security, gunning them down and entering the club. "Once he went in, we don't know what happened. There were gun sounds and after two minutes, the sound of an explosion."
    IPhone footage filmed by Dag and obtained by The Associated Press shows a police officer lying on the ground outside the club, and then a woman.
    Dag tells the woman, who is lying on the floor face down in a pool of blood, "my sister, you will get better." He calls for an ambulance. Footage shows ambulances and the lights of an Istanbul bridge when the sound of gunfire rings out inside the club.
    Initial media reports suggested the attacker may have been wearing a Santa Claus costume, but surveillance camera footage later showed the suspect in a black coat outside the club.

    Several foreigners among the dead

    Suleyman Soylu, Turkey's interior minister said authorities have identified 20 of the victims, five of them Turkish and 15 of foreign origin.
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    Relatives of the victims gather near club Reina in Ortakoy district after the attack. (Getty Images)
    An Israeli woman has been identified as one of the 39 victims. Israel's foreign ministry confirms that 18-year-old Leanne Nasser from the Israeli-Arab town of Tira was killed.
    Media reports in Turkey say some of the other foreign victims were from Saudia Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon and Libya.
    Soylu said according to security officials, the assailant was alone and wore a jacket. "There is information that he tried to leave with a different set of clothes."
    Turkey Attack
    The nightclub is located along the Bosphorus in Istanbul. (Depo Photos via AP)
    At the time of the shooting, about 600 people were inside the club, located near a bridge that crosses the Bosphorus River. The venue was popular with wealthy locals and tourists and usually featured heavy security, CBC's Nil Koksal said, reporting from Istanbul.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Turkey's president a telegram of condolences.
    "It is hard to imagine a more cynical crime than killing innocent people during New Year celebrations," Putin said in the message, the Kremlin said Sunday.
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    First aid officers carry an injured woman at the site of an armed attack on Sunday in Istanbul. At least 35 people were killed in an armed attack at a nightclub where people were celebrating the New Year. (Ihlas News Agency/AFP/Getty Images)
    "However, terrorists don't share moral values. Our common duty is to combat terrorists' aggression," Putin said.
    The White House described the shooting as "savagery" and said U.S. intelligence services would help Turkish authorities investigate what happened.
    White House spokesman Eric Schultz said President Barack Obama was briefed on the attack by his national security team and asked to be updated as the situation developed. Obama is vacationing in Hawaii this week with his family.
    White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the attack on "innocent revellers" celebrating New Year's shows the attackers' savagery. He said the U.S. was sending thoughts and prayers to the relatives of those killed.

    'Tears aren't enough'

    Italy's foreign minister said unity among countries and continents is needed to combat terror.
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    Turkish special force police officers and ambulances are seen at the site of an armed attack at the Reina nightclub. (Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images)
    Minister Angelino Alfano, in tweets Sunday, said the New Year's nightclub attack "reminds us that the fight against terror doesn't stop for any holiday or celebration."
    He said "tears aren't enough."
    Instead, Alfano said, "We must keep fighting against terror. To fight, together, to defend our freedom."

    Canada condemns 'horrendous attack'

    Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs St├ęphane Dion denounced the "horrendous attack" on Twitter and offered his condolences to the families of the victims.
    Canadians in Istanbul were urged to avoid the area and contact consular assistance in the case of an emergency.
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  • Queen to miss church at start of new year due to 'heavy cold'
    Queen Elizabeth missed a traditional New Year's Day church service Sunday because of the effects of a lingering cold.
    Buckingham Palace said the Queen "does not yet feel ready to attend church as she is still recuperating from a heavy cold." There was no indication she is suffering from a more serious illness.
    It was unusual for Elizabeth not to attend the service, long part of her New Year's Day routine. The inclement weather may have been a contributing factor in her decision to stay indoors. It was cold with a steady rain in the Norfolk area, 175 kilometres north of London, where the queen maintains a private estate called Sandringham.
    The Queen also missed the Christmas church service last week for the first time in decades. She is recuperating out of the public eye in one of her favourite homes.
    The 90-year-old queen, the longest reigning monarch in British history, had earlier delayed her departure for Sandringham for the Christmas holidays because both she and her husband, Prince Philip, were suffering from intense colds.
    She travelled one day later than planned and used a helicopter rather than a train to shorten the travel time.
    Her prolonged illness has raised some concerns because colds and flus can be dangerous for elderly people. The Queen has generally been in good health in recent years, although she has cut down somewhat on her travelling and public appearances.
    Philip, 95, has also reduced his schedule, but managed to attend more than 100 public events in 2016.
    He and other members of the royal family attended the New Year service Sunday at the church on the grounds of Sandringham estate.
    Philip was driven to the church in a royal Range Rover. He used to arrive by foot when he was younger.​
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  • New Year revellers kick off Canada's 150th, bid adieu to 2016
    As 2016 drew to a close, revellers in Canada celebrated a milestone birthday while bidding a weary adieu to a year filled with political surprises, prolonged conflicts and deaths of legendary celebrities.
    Here's how people are ushering in the new year in Canada and around the world:

    Canada

    In Ottawa, two massive fireworks displays kicked off a year-long 150th birthday bash across Canada. More than $210 million had been allocated for the 150th anniversary projects and events.
    Environment Canada issued a special weather statement for the capital region as a winter weather system known as an Alberta clipper moved into the area Saturday.
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    Workers setup a large banner as preparations are made to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday and New Years Eve celebrations to ring in 2017 on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Friday, December 30, 2016. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)
    It was expected to bring about 10 to 15 centimetres of snow, which tapered off before Sunday morning.
    The Governor General of Canada released a message from Queen Elizabeth on Saturday.
    "I am delighted to offer all Canadians my best wishes and congratulations on the 150th anniversary of Confederation," said the statement from the Queen. "Countries throughout the Commonwealth and, indeed, around the world, rejoice with you as you embark on this special year.
    "Throughout the years, particularly since your Centennial year, I have watched Canada develop into a remarkable nation. You have earned a reputation as a welcoming, respectful and compassionate country."
    New Year's Eve events were held in 19 cities across the country, including St. John's, which will be the first to hit the midnight milestone.

    United States

    New York City's police commissioner said more than 7,000 officers are working to secure the city for New Year's Eve.
    Commissioner James O'Neill said everyone should feel safe, especially in Times Square, where as many as a million revelers gathered to watch the crystal ball drop and ring in 2017.
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    People watch a pre-show in Times Square on New Year's Eve in New York. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)
    Police said there were no specific, credible terror threats against the city. But police said they had prepared — including lining the Manhattan streets near the celebration with sanitation trucks filled with sand to prevent any attempts to drive into crowds.
    It was impossible to drive into the crowd because of a new security measure. Dozens of garbage trucks filled with sand blocked vehicle access to Times Square.
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    People hand out hats to revellers on the streets during New Year's Eve festivities inside Times Square in New York. Revellers are being checked by security officials twice, once when they enter the square and once when they go into viewing pens (Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)
    Revellers were checked by security officials twice, once when they entered the square and once when they got into viewing pens that stretched from 42nd Street to West 59th Street. No large bags or umbrellas were allowed.
    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had the honour of pushing the Waterford crystal button that began a 60-second countdown to 2017.
    Mariah Carey was the headline performer in Times Square for "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest" on ABC.
    It's estimated that 300,000 visitors descended on Las Vegas for an extravagant New Year's Eve celebration.
    Nightclubs were pulling out all the stops with performances from DJ Calvin Harris, rappers T-Pain and Kendrick Lamar and artists Drake and Bruno Mars. The city's celebrity chefs crafted elaborate prix fixe menus complete with caviar and champagne toasts.
    Federal officials ranked the celebration just below the Super Bowl and on par with the festivities in Times Square. FBI and Secret Service agents worked alongside local police departments that put all hands on deck for the big night.
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    A German police officer guards the venue at the Brandenburg Gate, during the upcoming New Year's Eve celebrations in Berlin, Germany. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)

    Turkey

    New Year's celebrations turned deadly when an armed assailant opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul, killing dozens of people.
    Istanbul's governor said at least 35 people were killed and 40 others were wounded.
    Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara. In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were on duty, some camouflaged as Santa Claus or street vendors.

    France

    Tourists and French revelers swarmed along Paris' illuminated Champs Elysees Avenue on a frosty night, admiring the laser display from the Arc de Triomphe and lines of trees sparkling with lights.
    "It's so magical to be here in Paris, on what people say is the world's most beautiful avenue," said Maureen O'Reilly, a visitor from Belfast, Northern Ireland. "At times like this, I do think about all those terrible things in Aleppo and how lucky we are here in Europe despite everything."
    Some people were happy to say goodbye to 2016.
    "It's been such a horrible year, with all these [celebrity] deaths, Syria, Brexit and Trump. I say: good riddance," said Karine Dublot, from Lyon.
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    In Helsinki, Finland, New Year's Eve festivities kicked off celebrations for 100 years of independence for the Nordic nation. (Jussi Nukari/Reuters)

    Finland

    Finland New Year's Eve festivities kicked off celebrations for 100 years of independence from Russia.
    Tens of thousands of people gathered in Helsinki for a concert and a huge fireworks display to celebrate the beginning of festivities marking its independence.
    Throughout 2017 there will be hundreds of events in the Nordic nation of 5.5 million, from films, dance parties and environment-related events to concerts and activities linked to its renowned sauna tradition.
    Finland shares an 800-mile border with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday congratulated Finland for its centenary in a phone conversation with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
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    A young woman writes '2017' using a sparkler during the New Year's Eve celebrations in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary. (Attila Balazs/Associated Press)

    Australia

    After a year that saw the deaths of a seemingly endless parade of entertainers, Sydney honoured some of the most beloved. The city's famed fireworks display over the harbour paid homage to Prince and David Bowie, and was set to a music medley inspired by the late singers.
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    Fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as Australia ushers in the new year. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
    "We are hoping to make it rain purple this year for the first time, not only off the barges, but also off the Sydney Harbour Bridge," fireworks director Fortunato Forti said ahead of the celebrations, referencing Prince's hit Purple Rain.
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    Charlotte Kent from Huddersfield in England wears glowing glasses and a headset for 2017 before watching the New Year's Eve fireworks in Sydney, Australia, December 31, 2016. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
    The seven tonnes of fireworks launched from barges on the harbor also included a "Willy Wonka moment" in tribute to the late actor Gene Wilder's most famous role, fireworks co-producer Catherine Flanagan said. And there was a nod to the Bowie classic Space Oddity, with Saturn, moon and star-shaped fireworks. Bowie lived in Sydney for about 10 years during the 1980s and '90s.
    "This year, sadly, we saw the loss of many music and entertainment legends around the world," Flanagan said. "So celebrating their music as part of Sydney New Year's Eve fireworks displays is an opportunity to reflect on the year that has been and what the future may hold."
    Around 1.5 million revellers gathered in the harbour to join in the festivities. An extra 2,000 police were on duty and buses were used to block off certain pedestrian areas following the deadly truck-driving attacks in Berlin and Nice, France.
    Officials urged residents to carry on celebrating as normal, despite the threats of extremist attacks across the globe and in Australia. On Friday, a man was arrested after police say he posted threats on social media related to Sydney's New Year's Eve celebrations. New South Wales police said he was acting in isolation and had no known links to extremist groups.
    Indonesia New Year
    A woman carries her daughter as fire crackers explode above the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout during New Year's eve in the main business district in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday. (Dita Alangkara/The Associated Press)

    United Arab Emirates 

    In Dubai, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to watch as fireworks shoot from the sides of the world's tallest building, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa. The show also will be streamed live online.
    But authorities hope they won't see a repeat of last year's excitement, when police say faulty wiring sparked a fire several hours before midnight at The Address Downtown, a 63-story skyscraper nearby. The high-rise tower still remains under repair.

    China

    Residents in Beijing and Shanghai, China's two largest cities, passed New Year's Eve in a relative state of security lockdown, according to Chinese media reports citing police.
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    People pose for pictures as they attend a New Year's Eve countdown event in Beijing. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)
    The Bund waterfront in Shanghai would not have any celebrations, authorities announced this week, while the sale, use and transportation of fireworks in central Shanghai would be prohibited altogether. Large buildings that often display light shows also stayed dark.
    More than 30 people died two years ago in a deadly stampede on Shanghai's waterfront, where 300,000 people had gathered to watch a planned light show.
    Beijing police also said countdowns, lightshows, lotteries and other organized activities would not be held in popular shopping districts such as Sanlitun and Guomao.

    North and South Korea

    Kim Il-sung Square in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, was the scene of a fireworks display to ring in the new year.
    South Korea Politics
    Even on New Year's Eve, large crowds of South Koreans gathered to join another rally in Seoul demanding the ouster of impeached President Park Geun-hye, who's determined to restore her powers through a court trial. The letters read 'Asking.' (Ahn Young-joon/Associated Press)
    To the south, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans ushered in the new year with a massive protest demanding the resignation of disgraced President Park Geun-hye. It was the 10th straight weekend of protests that led to Park's impeachment on Dec. 9 over a corruption scandal.
    The evening rally overlapped with Seoul's traditional bell-tolling ceremony at the Bosinkgak pavilion at midnight.
    "So many unbelievable things happened in 2016. It didn't feel real; if felt like a movie," protester Lee Huymi said about the bizarre scandal that brought Park down. "So I hope 2017 brings a movie-like ending to the mess. Everything getting solved, quickly and all at once, leaving us all happy."

    India

    For most people in India, New Year's Eve is a time for family. In New Delhi and many other cities, newspapers are full of big advertisements for lavish parties at upscale hotels and restaurants. The big draws at the hotel parties were song and dance performances from Bollywood and television stars.
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    A man gets a haircut with the number '2017' to welcome the new year at a barbershop in Ahmedabad, India. (Amit Dave/Reuters)
    Police with breath analyzers checked for drunk driving, and security was tightened in malls and restaurants.
    The western city of Mumbai hosted big street parties with thousands of people at the iconic Gateway of India, a colonial-era structure on the waterfront overlooking the Arabian Sea. There was music, as well as dancing and the occasional fireworks.
    Remembering 2016 and lives lost2:45