22 July 2018

Survivor says: "I acted dead"

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They had come to celebrate the New Year in Istanbul at the exclusive Reina nightclub overlooking the Bosphorus, and to enjoy a city reputed for its diversity. reports that, just over an hour into 2017, 39 people including an Indian Bollywood film producer, a Turkish waiter, a Lebanese fitness trainer and a Jordanian bar owner, were forced to hide when a gunman intent on killing as many people as possible stormed through the club.

At 01:15 a.m. on Sunday (2215 GMT), an armed assailant sprayed the entrance of the club with gunfire, killing two people before entering the venue and causing carnage.

The victims included citizens of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, France, Tunisia, India, Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, Canada, Israel, Syria, Belgium, Germany and Azerbaijan.

"As soon as he entered the club he started firing and he didn't stop. He fired non-stop for 20 minutes at least," said Younis Turk, a French citizen of Turkish origin.

"We thought that there were several of them because it just didn't stop," he said.

Turk described the ensuing panic in the club: "In the panic we were running all over, we weren't really watching who was around us. But people who were running with me were hit."

"I think back to those moments, I can't erase them from my memory. The people panicking, the blood, the noise of the gunshots, the explosions. That's what I keep on thinking about," Kodat who is Turk's cousin, told AFP.

'I acted dead'

Shot in the arm and slumped behind a table, Francois al-Asmar said he played dead as the gunman walked through the exclusive Istanbul nightclub shooting the wounded as they lay on the ground.

"I was hiding behind the table, sitting on the floor, but my shoulder must have been exposed. He was shooting us on the floor ... I acted dead so he didn't keep shooting me," the Lebanese survivor said.

Al-Asmar also said that it was his passport that saved his life.

"It saved my life because I was carrying it near my heart" despite the bullet touching the document, he said talking from his hospital bed.

2017.01.02 / 23:24
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