Lubna Ghasnawi was among the glamorous crowd of young partygoers gathered inside Istanbul’s Reina nightclub to ring in 2017 when a gunman opened fire, killing her and at least 38 others.
The 34-year-old entrepreneur was one of seven victims from Saudi Arabia who had traveled to Istanbul to attend New Year’s festivities, according to Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu.
The deadly rampage, later claimed by ISIS, was an attack on cosmopolitan Turkey. The target: a popular club frequented by wealthy secular millennials and international celebrities.
Istanbul attack: Latest developments
Ghashwani was a communications manager for one of Saudi Arabia’s largest banks and also co-owned a start-up with her sister called Exclusave Card, the first student discount card in Saudi Arabia.
A friend of Gashwani’s described her as a “torch of energy.”
“She was an optimist and loved going to new places. … Laughter and happiness filled whatever place she went to,” Seham al-Zahrani told CNN. “She was very ambitious and inspiring.”
At least 11 victims were from Turkey, according to Anadolu, while at least 27 victims hailed from 13 other countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Canada.
These are some of their stories:
Leanne Nasser, teenager from Israel
Leanne Nasser, a Palestinian from the town of Tira, begged her parents to let her go to Istanbul to celebrate New Year’s Eve with three friends. She had never before traveled abroad. At first, her father refused to let her go. But an aunt, Layal Masarweh, intervened on her behalf.
“Her father was totally against that,” said Masarweh, who helped convince Nasser’s father to let her go. “He was saying that Istanbul is too dangerous and that she should not go at all. But she insisted, saying that nothing will happen to her.”
Nasser, 18, had finished high school in June and had big plans for her future. She worked at a dental clinic and wanted to become a dentist.
“I cannot forgive myself,” Masarweh told CNN. “I wish I was with her to defend her or do anything to save her life. I wish they took my soul and gave it to her.”
Khushi Shah, Indian fashion designer
Khushi Shah was a young Indian fashion designer based in Mumbai. Shah had started her own fashion label, KhushiZ, and traveled to Istanbul for work three days before the deadly assault.
Shah’s older brother, Akshay Shah, and her cousin Hiren Chawra were headed to Istanbul to identify and repatriate her body, Shah’s cousin Priyanka Shah told CNN.
Abis Rizvi, Indian film producer
Abis Rizvi, a director and film producer from Mumbai, was among the victims, according to the Twitter account of Sushma Swaraj, Indian minister of external affairs.
“We are extremely heart broken and devastated to announce the sudden demise of Abis Rizvi. May his soul rest in peace,” the film company Rizvi worked for posted on Facebook.
Condolences poured in from Bollywood, with actors and directors sharing messages of grief.
“Devastated by the death of my friend #AbisRizvi in the dastardly terrorist attack this morning in an #Istanbul nightclub,” Bollywood actor Jaaved Jaaferi tweeted.
Pooja Bhatt, an Indian filmmaker and actress, tweeted: “Devastated to hear that our friend #AbisRizvi was shot dead in the Istanbul nightclub attack. My heart goes out to his family. RIP.”
Fatih Cakmak, 35, Turkish security guard
A Turkish security guard who was among the first to die in Sunday’s attack had narrowly escaped a double bombing in the city three weeks earlier.
Fatih Cakmak had considered himself lucky after surviving the December 10 attack outside Istanbul’s Vodafone Arena, where he was working security for a soccer match.
His father, Hassan Cakmak, told CNN he is stunned that he has outlived his son.
“It was just a regular day. He lived at home. He went to work, and now he’s gone,” the elder Cakmak said at his son’s funeral Monday in Istanbul’s Bagcilar neighborhood.
Ilyas Tas, owner of security company Favori Vip, posted two photos of his late employee and friend on Facebook, writing that he “felt broken.”
“When the attack happened last night, I heard it from other friends. I called Fatih till 5 a.m. and his phone was ringing, but he wasn’t answering. I was so upset. It really hurt me,” Tas told CNN. “Fatih was really great at his job. He was quiet and calm. Everybody loved him so much. That is why his funeral was so crowded.”
Kerim Akyil, 23, Belgian-Turkish citizen
Another victim, Kerim Akyil, had dual Belgian-Turkish citizenship, according to Anadolu and Belgian officials.
Residents in the Belgian town of Houthalen-Helchteren gathered Monday for a candlelit vigil to honor Akyil, 23. Mayor Alain Yzermans posted a statement on Facebook expressing sympathy for the family.
Rita Chami, Lebanese national
Lebanon and Iraq each lost three citizens, Anadolu reported. The family of Lebanon’s Rita Chami announced her death, her brother Haitham Chami told the state-run National News Agency.
Rita Chami was set to graduate in the spring from the American University of Science and Technology in Lebanon, the school said.
Elias Wardini, Lebanese national
The Lebanese general consul in Istanbul also confirmed the deaths of Elias Wardini and Haikal Mussalem, the National News Agency reported. Planning Affairs Minister Michel Pharaon informed Wardini’s family of his death Sunday, it said.
Fitness Zone, a Beirut gym where Wardini was a personal trainer, closed its doors Tuesday out of respect.
“Tomorrow is a mourning day at fitness zone, therefore, all our branches will be closed,” it said on Facebook on Monday.
“May the soul of Elias rest in peace.”
Burak Yildiz, 22, Turkish police officer
A police officer was among the dead, said Ali Seker, a parliament member in Istanbul, according to Anadolu.
Burhanettin Kocamaz, mayor of Mersin Metropolitan Municipality, confirmed the officer’s identity as Burak Yildiz. The 22-year-old was the youngest of three children, and his brother is an officer in Istanbul, Anadolu reported. Many left condolences on his Instagram page.
Hatice Koc Karcilar, 29, Security guard
She was working at the nightclub when the gunman came inside. Karcilar was the mother of a 3-year-old girl.
CNN’s Oren Liebermann, Joe Sutton, and Hande Atay Alam contributed to this report.