Istanbul: Turkey on Sunday is to see in the New Year with muted celebrations and amid the tightest security, under the shadow of the terror attack on an elite Istanbul nightclub that left 39 dead on early Jan 1, 2017.
A gunman, just 45 minutes into 2017, ran at the Reina nightclub on the Bosphorus, killing indiscriminately and later slipping away in a taxi. The attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State extremist group, was another body blow to Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a year of terror attacks by jihadists and Kurdish rebels as well as the failed coup.
However there has been no major attack in Turkey since the Reina murders, and security forces this year appear to be taking every possible precaution to ensure that this New Year passes without incident.
Police disguised as lottery sellers will be on the road. A total of 37,000 police will be deployed in Istanbul alone on New Year’s night, more than double the number last year, according to Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin.
Some 4,000 members of the gendarmerie and coastguard are also being put on duty.
Meanwhile, authorities have either scrapped or banned any New Year celebrations in some of the most popular areas for revellers, including the major hub of Taksim Square, the buzzing area of Besiktas and upscale shopping district of Sisli.