At least one policeman was stationed outside of the Reina nightclub when the attack occurred, but the gunman shot him and a civilian outside the club before entering and firing on people partying inside, Gov. Vasip Sahin said.

“Unfortunately (he) rained bullets in a very cruel and merciless way on innocent people who were there to celebrate New Year’s and have fun,” Sahin told reporters.

At least 15 of the dead were foreign nationals, Soylu said. Five of the victims were identified as Turkish nationals and others were reported to be from Lebanon, Morocco, Israel, Libya and Saudi Arabia.