1st January 2017
The U.S. embassy in Turkey on Sunday rejected media claims it had prior intelligence about the deadly terror attack at an Istanbul nightclub.
“Contrary to rumors circulating on social media, the U.S. Government had no information about threats to specific entertainment venues, including the Reina Club, and the U.S. Government did not warn Americans to stay away from specific venues or neighborhoods,” the embassy said in a statement.
At least 39 people, including a police officer, died after an attacker opened fire on partygoers at the venue in Istanbul’s Ortakoy district in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
Sixty-nine people were also hurt, with a number of foreigners among the dead and injured.
“As the White House and our embassy indicated earlier today, we categorically condemn last night’s terrorist attack,” the U.S. statement continued.
Sunday’s statement came after Mehmet Kocarslan, owner of Reina nightclub, claimed U.S. sources had intelligence on the attack, but later clarified his remarks, saying the U.S. had warned its citizens against such attacks.
The embassy in Ankara said a general threat warning was issued on Dec. 22 “for Turkey and various parts of Europe, as we do whenever there are indications that American citizens might be targeted or subjected to violence”.
“The U.S. and Turkish agencies consult closely in combating terrorism, including by sharing information on suspected terrorist threats. This cooperation will continue as we confront the shared threat of terrorism,” it added.
Official Turkish News Agency Anadolu reports today that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today that ‘Turkey will continue to fight against terrorism and its backers till the end.’
President Erdogan said the “vicious attack” in Istanbul clearly showed that terror does not discriminate but “aims to hurt and kill.”
“Turkey is firm on doing whatever it takes to protect its citizens’ safety and peace in the region,” the president said. “Turkey will stand together and not give passage to dirty games of terrorists.”
“I offer my condolences to our citizens’, to our foreign guests’ and to our security officer’s families and wish a speedy recovery to those injured,” Erdogan said. “We are dedicated to eradicate attacks and threats to our country.”