Istanbul governor: At least 35 people killed in nightclub attack

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JANUARY 1: Turkish police secure the area at Ortakoy district near night club Reina on January 1, 2017 in Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin says at least 35 dead and 40 wounded at terror attack at Istanbul's famous night club of Reina in Bosphorus shores in the new year party. (Photo by Stringer/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL (AP) — An assailant believed to have been dressed as Santa Claus killed 35 people and wounded 40 more after opening fire inside a crowded Istanbul nightclub.

Turkey’s state-run news agency says an armed assailant has opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year’s celebrations.

The Anadolu Agency said the attack occurred in Istanbul’s Ortakoy district.

Footage from the scene showed at least six ambulances with flashing lights and civilians being escorted out. Media reports said police have cordoned off the area and an operation is ongoing.

Eyewitness Sinem Uyanik told the Associated Press she saw several bodies inside the Istanbul nightclub that was attacked during New Year’s celebrations.

Her husband Lutfu Uyanik was wounded in the attack. “Before I could understand what was happening, my husband fell on top me,” she said outside Istanbul’s Sisli Hospital. “I had to lift several bodies from on top of me before I could get out.”

Her husband was not in serious condition despite his wounds.

The White House is condemning what it calls a “horrific terrorist attack” in Istanbul and offering U.S. help to Turkey.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz says Obama was briefed on the attack by his national security team and asked to be updated as the situation develops. Obama is vacationing in Hawaii this week with his family.

White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price says the attack on “innocent revelers” celebrating New Year’s shows the attackers’ savagery. He says the U.S. sends thoughts and prayers to the relatives of those killed.

Price says the U.S. supports its NATO ally Turkey as both countries fight terrorism.

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