Istanbul: A triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport has killed 42 people, including foreigners, with Turkey’s prime minister saying early signs pointed to an assault by the Islamic State group.
A mother of a victim reacts outside a hospital close to Istanbul's airport. Pic/AFP
The attackers began spraying bullets at the international terminal entrance before blowing themselves up on Tuesday night, Turkish authorities said.
It is the deadliest of four attacks to rock Turkey’s biggest city this year, with two others blamed on ISIS and another claimed by a militant Kurdish group. Though there was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday’s carnage, “the evidence points to Daesh”, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.
A worker cleans the blood splashed on the roof of the international departure terminal at Istanbul Ataturk airport following Tuesday’s attack. Pic/Getty Images
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag put the number of wounded at 239. The attack prompted the suspension of all flights at the airport — one of Europe’s busiest hubs. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for an international “joint fight” against terror, as Western allies including the United States condemned the “heinous” attack.
How it happened
Yildirim said the suicide bombers had arrived in a taxi and opened fire on passengers with automatic rifles before blowing themselves up. Security camera footage widely circulated on social media appeared to capture two of the blasts.
The death toll excluded the three bombers, who arrived in a taxi last night and eventually blew themselves up after coming under fire, according to the government, though there were conflicting reports about exactly where they detonated their explosives.
Earlier, the same official had said none of the attackers got past security checks at the entrance, with two detonating explosives at the international arrivals terminal and the third in the parking lot.
Investigators are examining CCTV footage and mobile phone videos to piece together what one official called a “jigsaw puzzle”. Bullet holes peppered the windows and shattered glass lay on the floor, while abandoned luggage was scattered everywhere.
Tuesday’s attack follows coordinated ISIS suicide bombings at Brussels airport and a city metro station in March that left 32 people dead.
January 12: An Isis suicide bomber targeted foreign tourists who were visiting Istanbul’s Hippodrome of Constantinople, the historic social center of the Byzantine Empire’s capital. In total, 11 people were killed and 14 were wounded.
March 19: A suicide bombing rocked Istanbul’s main pedestrian street, killing five people, including the bomber, whom the authorities identified as a Turkish national linked to ISIS.
June 7: The explosion of a remote-controlled car bomb in the center of the town took six policemen and five bystanders’ lives and injured 36. TAK, a militant splinter group of the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK, claimed responsibility.
Latest Jihadist Ramadan attack
Since Ramadan began, jihadists have carried out attacks in Orlando, Afghanistan, Kenya, Lebanon, and now Istanbul. In the ISIS video calling for such attacks, spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani urged jihadists to “make it a month of calamity everywhere for nonbelievers ... especially for the supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America.” Jihadist attacks during Ramadan are nothing new. During Ramadan 2015, Islamic jihadist carried out deadly attacks in France, Syria, Kuwait, Syria, Somalia, and Tunisia.
132 The number of people who have been killed in terror-related incidents in Turkey so far this year.
13 foreigners died
Saudi Arabia (5) Iraq (5) China (1) Jordan (1) Tunisia (1) Uzbekistan (1) Iran (1) Ukraine (1)
Otfah Mohamed Abdullah, a witness Somebody came and shot at us and then my sister ran. I don’t know which way she ran and after that I fell down. I was on the ground till he (the gunman) stopped... I can’t find my sister.
Laurence Cameron, a traveller It looked like someone had gone around with a bulldozer and just shredded the entire entrance to the terminal.
Sue Savage, a witness There was a lot of blood. There was so much glass on the floor; they were scuffing it aside so we didn’t slip.