Security services had been on heightened alert for New Year in Turkey and across Europe.
Just days ago, an online message from a pro-ISIL group called for attacks by “lone wolves” on “celebrations, gatherings and clubs”.
As he was wheeled out of an ambulance on a stretcher, one survivor of the nightclub massacre said:
“They shot people without mercy…They shot everyone. Three to four people shot everyone with machine guns. They shot everyone in the head.”
In his first reaction, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said attacks are aimed at creating chaos, demoralising the people and destabilising Turkey but that the nation would stand firm.
“As a nation, we will fight to the end against not just the armed attacks of terror groups and the forces behind them, but also against their economic, political and social attacks,” Erdogan said in a written statement.
“They are trying to create chaos, demoralise our people, and destabilise our country with abominable attacks which target civilians … We will retain our cool-headedness as a nation, standing more closely together, and we will never give ground to such dirty games.”
He also said such attacks are not independent from developments in the region.
Eyewitness Sinem Uyanik told how her husband was wounded.
The couple had got on the ground and he was covering her.
“They fired guns. Two or three people were shooting,” she said.
“Then there was a kind of fog and I fainted. There were people on me. I pushed them. On my left, my right, everyone was crying.”
Mehmet Kocarslan, the owner of the upmarket nightclub which is popular with locals and foreigners alike, is quoted in Turkish media as saying that security measures had been taken in recent days after US intelligence reports suggested a possible attack.