We hid in Reina for an hour amid terror attack: Nightclub DJ
İsmail Saymaz – ISTANBULThe DJ of the nightclub attacked by an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant in Istanbul’s Ortaköy district has described horrific scenes inside the building, saying they hid in the DJ cabin for an hour during and after the attack, which claimed a total of 39 lives.
“Me and my friend Ufuk were inside the DJ cabin. It was 1:17 a.m. My girlfriend texted me. I figured out the time from that. I was going to reply. There were around 700 or 800 people inside the club. People were dancing and having fun. Then I heard a gunshot. We panicked. We thought it might be a blank cartridge,” DJ Abdullah Can Saraç told daily Hürriyet, adding that the ISIL militant started shooting after that point.
“There is a very narrow space under the DJ cabin. Ufuk pulled me down and we hid there. He also shut my mouth to stop me making noise,” he added.
Saraç said the attacker shot at people non-stop inside the club, adding that the militant moved right in front of the DJ cabin at one point.
“I could feel his footsteps and breathing. He started shooting once again. The empty cartridge cases were hitting the furniture. They also dropped to us. He changed four chargers. I counted four. I said ‘God, let this be the last one.’ The gunshots never stopped. He was alone, there wasn’t any other attacker,” Saraç said.
He added that the attacker changed his clothes shortly after the gunshot sounds stopped.
“Then we heard groaning and people asking for help. We were very scared. I heard him say Allahuekber (God is great) three times in Arabic. We heard the police five or 10 minutes later. They called on him to surrender. He didn’t reply. I heard two or three more gunshots. I said, ‘Ufuk, this isn’t over. We’re going to die here.’ Then 15 minutes later we heard shouts saying ‘Lie on the ground!’ [The police] were saying that to the wounded,” he added.
Saraç also described how he and his friend were saved by the Special Forces Police.
“We called for help. The special forces arrived. The place was still full of people and there was blood everywhere. There were wounded, dead, suffering people,” he said.
Saraç noted that nightclub personnel had been uneasy about a potential attack on New Year’s Eve.
“I went through three police checks while I was coming to work. I counted 15 police officers on the way. There was such tight security, I can’t believe the attacker got in,” he said.
“The police arrived late. The police headquarters is very close to the club. It is hard to give meaning to anything. How did this man get in and escape? Did he not attract any attention?” Saraç said.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that Rita Chami, 26, a Lebanese national who was killed in the attack, wrote an ironic Facebook post before visiting Istanbul about a possible terror attack in Turkey.
“I hope we’ll have fun in Turkey. The worst case scenario is that I’ll die in an explosion and meet my mum,” Chami wrote, referring to her mother’s death four months ago.