Washington (AFP) - The White House condemned the "savagery" of at least one gunman in Istanbul who killed at least 35 people and wounded 40 others as they celebrated the New Year, calling the attack "horrific."
The gunman reportedly dressed as Santa Claus shot dead a policeman and a civilian at the entrance to the Reina nightclub, one of the city's most exclusive party venues, before going on a shooting rampage inside, according to the authorities.
NTV television said many party-goers threw themselves into the Bosphorus in panic after the attack and efforts were under way to rescue them from the waters.
"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the horrific terrorist attack at a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey, which has left dozens dead and many more wounded," National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
"That such an atrocity could be perpetrated upon innocent revelers, many of whom were celebrating New Year's Eve, underscores the savagery of the attackers."
Price added: "We reaffirm the support of the United States for Turkey, our NATO ally, in our shared determination to confront and defeat all forms of terrorism.
State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said the United States would be "in close touch" with Turkish authorities as they investigate the attack.
"Sadly, this heinous attack is only the latest effort to kill and maim innocent civilians," he added.
"These attacks only reinforce our strong determination to work with the Government of Turkey to counter the scourge of terrorism."