It sure didn’t take long for the first piece of bad news in 2017.

At least 39 people have been killed after a gunman dressed in a Santa Claus  costume opened fire in a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey.

The attacker had reportedly killed a policeman and civilian outside the popular Reina nightclub, before entering and shooting inside.

“Unfortunately (he) rained bullets in a very cruel and merciless way on innocent people who were there to celebrate New Year and have fun,” Province governor Mr Vasip Sahin said.

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“Efforts to find the terrorist are continuing,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said. “Our security forces have started the necessary operations. God willing he will be caught in a short period of time.”

The gunman reportedly changed clothes after the attack, and is currently at large. “Four of the injured are in very serious condition,’ said health minister Recep Akdag. ‘There are several foreign nationals among the wounded.”

About 600 people were celebrating the turn of the year in the nightclub when it happened, with 70 more reportedly injured.