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Istanbul nightclub attack: Israeli teenager who was on holiday with friends among those killed

Leanne Nasser, 18, was on a short holiday to celebrate New Year's Eve when she was killed by a gunman who opened fire at hundreds of people in an Istanbul nightclub

May Bulman
Sunday 01 January 2017 19:45 GMT
Leanne Nasser, 18, was killed during a mass shooting in a nightclub while on holiday with friends in Istanbul
Leanne Nasser, 18, was killed during a mass shooting in a nightclub while on holiday with friends in Istanbul (Facebook)

An Israeli teenager who was on holiday with friends in Istanbul was among those killed during a mass shooting at a club in the Turkish city.

Leanne Nasser,18, died when the attacker opened fire at a crowd of hundreds of people celebrating New Year’s Eve at the Reina nightclub, killing at least 39 people and injuring dozens more.

Miss Nasser, from the Arab-majority village of Tira in northern Israel, had travelled to Istanbul with two friends the previous day for a "few days' trip" to celebrate the turn of the new year, despite reportedly being warned of security threats.

The teenager was reported missing on Sunday morning, at which point their family had pleaded for people to come forward with knowledge of her whereabouts, before it was confirmed by Israeli authorities that she had been killed in the attack.

One of Miss Nasser’s friends was also injured after sustaining two gunshot wounds in the attack, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The injured woman’s father told the newspaper she was in “good condition” following surgery, but that she would remain in hospital for about four days until her condition stabilises.

He added that the young women had travelled to Istanbul especially to celebrate the turn of the new year. “They are good friends, and they planned on going for a few days' trip, for New Year's,” he said.

Two other Israeli friends they were with were not physically hurt but are reported to be suffering from anxiety.

One of them told Haaretz newspaper: “Shots were fired from all directions and I saw dead and wounded people falling near me.

Eye-witness describes Istanbul attack

“I hid in some corner and didn’t know what to do. Everyone was screaming and crying and the shooting didn’t stop, it sounded like an eternity.

”Afterwards, I was evacuated outside of the club and saw that everything was ruined, and a lot of blood and people lying dead. It was a horrific sight.”

The young women had reportedly been encouraged not to travel to the Turkish city due to security concerns.

“Their friends told them not to come because they thought it was too dangerous. They are very shocked and confused and they just want to get back home,” Shira Ben Zion, Israel's deputy consul in Istanbul, told Mail Online.

Israeli officials are providing the young women who survived with consular support and helping them return to Israel, Ms Zion added.

On Friday, the day before the attack took place, Ms Nasser had checked in at Ben Gurion Israeli International Airport on Facebook, saying she and her two friends were travelling to Israel to Istanbul.

Since the news of the teenager's death, hundreds of people have taken to social media to express their grief and offer words of condolence.

One man from Miss Nasser’s hometown, Ahmad Mansour, wrote on Facebook: “Terror reaches my hometown Tira, with about 20 thousand inhabitants.

“The city is in mourning today around Layan Nasser, yesterday in the nightclub Reina in Istanbul with a further 38 people had been murdered.

“Layan and the other victims were going to celebrate life and rejoice in the New Year, but died for it.”

Also among those killed in the attack was mother-of-one Hatice Koc'un, a private security guard from northeast Turkey.

Ms Koc’un, 39, was working at the Reina nightclub on the night of the attack, after the venue upped door security for the night due to the “intensity” of New Year’s celebrations, according to Turkish news site Haberturk.

Her family reportedly identified the body at the morgue on Sunday and are transporting it to the family home at western city of Balikesir.

The day before the attack, Ms Koc'un, whose daughter is three years old, shared pictures of herself on social media wearing sunglasses and kissing the Turkish flag.

Others killed in the attack are reported to be from Lebanon, Jordan, France, Tunisia, Belgium and Saudi Arabia.

At least five Saudi citizens were among the casualties, a Saudi newspaper reported, while the foreign ministry in Jordan said three Jordanians lost their lives.

The family of Elias Wardini, a Lebanese national, said they had been informed of his death. At least one more Lebanese citizen is reported to have died.

A French-Tunisian dual national was also killed, the French foreign ministry confirmed on Sunday afternoon, while Tunisia's foreign ministry said on Facebook that two Tunisians died. It is unclear if either of them is the French-Tunisian dual national.

Belgium's foreign ministry confirmed a Belgian-Turkish dual national was also among those who had died in the massacre.

Kenan Kutluk, a married father-of-two who was working as a waiter at the Reina nightclub when the gunman stormed in, was among the Turkish citizens killed.

Also reportedly among the dead were Mustafa Sezgin Seymen, who had been engaged and preparing to wed his wife, while Iraqi national Jalal Abbas, who had moved to Turkey to study.

Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim confirmed that more than 60 people were injured, adding that three or four of them were in a critical condition.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said efforts were continuing to find the attacker, who entered the nightclub at around 1.15am on Sunday (10.15pm UK time), killing a police officer and a civilian before opening fire into the crowd of up to 700 people inside.

The attacker left his gun at the scene before fleeing, according to the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who also rejected earlier reports the assailant was dressed in a Santa Claus outfit.

After Turkey's latest deadly attack, Mr Yildirim said that the country would not be intimidated.

“The most important, the biggest assurance for us, is the spirit of solidarity our nation is displaying before all these attacks,” he told journalists. “There is no problem we cannot overcome.”

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