Turkey has witnessed numerous attacks over the past year which have targeted the country’s airports, security forces and civilians at public protests and wedding celebrations.
On Sunday, the elite Reina nightclub in Istanbul became the latest target of militants. Although there was already a heightened threat of terrorism in Turkey, few realised in one of the historic city’s upmarket neighbourhoods, known as a hub of nightclubs, cafes and art galleries.
The Reina club itself is a popular haunt of the well-heeled, with one of the club’s TripAdvisor reviewers describing it as a place where “you can see most famous and rich people”.
The attack, which took place as partygoers were celebrating the new year, had echoes of the November 2015 attacks in Paris when Islamic State group operatives carried out several shootings and bombings, including at the Bataclan concert hall.
Prior to 31 December festivities, security was stepped up due to fears that New Year celebrations could be targeted by extremists. Anxieties about security were heightened by the recent attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, where 12 people were killed.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Berlin attack, however it remains unclear who perpetrated the shootings in Istanbul which left at least 39 people dead.
In the rest of Europe, the IS group’s attacks are carried out with the aim of driving a wedge between the country’s Muslim communities and non-Muslims, thus eliminating the ‘grey zone’. In Turkey, a country that sits at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, an attack perpetrated by IS would likely try to further divide the country’s conservative and liberal sections of society.
Due to nature of the attack and its location, it may indicate that this was carried out by the IS group. Turkey, however, has also been targeted by Kurdish seperatist groups and Gulenist operatives who carried out the July coup attempt.
“They are working to destroy our country’s morale and create chaos by deliberately targeting our nation’s peace and targeting civilians with these heinous attacks,” Erdogan said in a statement on the presidency website.
In addressing the attack, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not blame any particular group but promised Turkey would continue to fight “terrorism”.
“Turkey is determined to continue to fight to the end against terror and to do whatever is necessary to ensure the security of its citizens and secure peace in the region,” he said.
But as more information filters through in the coming days, the culrprit of the attack will likely become clearer and allow Turkish security to concentrate its efforts on tracking down the killer.
[The article was originally published by The New Arab and reproduced here with permission.]