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41 killed in Istanbul airport bombings, Turkey's PM blames Islamic State

Updated Jun 29, 2016 05:28pm

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A riot police officer stands guard at the entrance of the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey, following a multiple suicide bombing, early June 29, 2016.— Reuters
A riot police officer stands guard at the entrance of the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey, following a multiple suicide bombing, early June 29, 2016.— Reuters

ISTANBUL: A triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul's Ataturk airport late Tuesday night killed at least 41 people, including 13 foreigners, and wounded 239 people, the city's governor confirmed as Turkey's prime minister said early signs pointed to an assault by the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

The attackers began spraying bullets at the international terminal entrance before blowing themselves up at around 10:00pm (1900 GMT) Tuesday, Turkish authorities said.

It is the deadliest of four attacks to rock Turkey's biggest city this year, with two others blamed on IS and another claimed by a militant Kurdish group.

People phone and wait with their luggage outside the Ataturk airport in Istanbul after blasts.— AFP
People phone and wait with their luggage outside the Ataturk airport in Istanbul after blasts.— AFP

Though there was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday's carnage, “the evidence points to Daesh”, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told journalists at the scene, using another name for the militants. He said the dead included foreigners, but gave no further details.

An Iranian and a Ukrainian have been confirmed as the first foreign victims in the attack, a Turkish official said Wednesday.

“I confirm one Iranian and one Ukrainian national have been killed in yesterday's terror attack,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The attack prompted the suspension of all flights at the airport — one of Europe's busiest hubs. More than 61 million passengers travelled through the airport in 2015.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for an international “joint fight” against terror, as Western allies including the United States condemned the “heinous” attack.

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.

In one clip a huge ball of flame erupts at an entrance to the terminal building, scattering terrified passengers.

Another video shows a black-clad attacker running inside the building before collapsing to the ground apparently felled by a police bullet — and blowing himself up.

Tuesday's attack follows coordinated IS suicide bombings at Brussels airport and a city metro station in March that left 32 people dead.

'The roof came down'

Most of those killed were Turkish nationals but foreigners were also among the dead, a Turkish official said.

A view of the entrance of the Ataturk international airport after two suicide bombers opened fire before blowing themselves up at the entrance.—Reuters
A view of the entrance of the Ataturk international airport after two suicide bombers opened fire before blowing themselves up at the entrance.—Reuters

Ali Tekin, who was at the arrivals hall waiting for a guest, said the roof came down after an “extremely loud” explosion.

“Inside the airport it is terrible, you can't recognise it, the damage is big,” Tekin said.

A woman named Duygu, who was at passport control after arriving from Germany, said she threw herself to the floor after the explosion.

“Everyone started running away. Everywhere was covered with blood and body parts. I saw bullet holes on the doors,” she said.

Paul Roos, 77, said he saw one of the attackers “randomly shooting” in the departures hall from about 50 metres away.

“He was wearing all black. His face was not masked,” said Roos, a South African on his way home after a holiday in southern Turkey.

"We ducked behind a counter but I stood up and watched him. Two explosions went off shortly after one another. By that time he had stopped shooting,” Roos told Reuters.

“He turned around and started coming towards us. He was holding his gun inside his jacket. He looked around anxiously to see if anyone was going to stop him and then went down the escalator ... We heard some more gunfire and then another explosion, and then it was over.”

'I can't find my sister'

An AFP photographer saw bodies covered with sheets at the terminal, which bore heavy damage from the blasts.

Bullet holes peppered the windows and shattered glass lay on the floor, while abandoned luggage was scattered everywhere.

Turkish rescue services help a wounded person outside Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. —AP
Turkish rescue services help a wounded person outside Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. —AP

Hundreds of police and firefighters including forensic officers were at the scene.

“Somebody came and shot at us and then my sister was running,” Otfah Mohamed Abdullah told AFP. “I don't know which way she was running and after that I was falling down. I was on the ground till he finished... I can't find my sister.”

There was panic at the nearest hospital in Istanbul's Bakirkoy district, which was inundated with relatives desperate for news of loved ones.

Security expert Abdullah Agar told CNN Turk the attack bore the hallmarks of IS. “It really bears a resemblance to their methods,” he said in reference to the Brussels bombings, which were claimed by IS.

The US and French consulates warned people to stay away from the area.

Erdogan call

President Tayyip Erdogan said the attack should serve as a turning point in the global fight against militant groups.

“The attack, which took place during the holy month of Ramadan, shows that terrorism strikes with no regard for faith and values,” he said in a statement.

The United States said it stood in solidarity with Turkey, its NATO ally, and that such attacks would only reinforce their joint determination. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to intensify global efforts to combat extremism.

Erdogan met with his prime minister and military chief after news of the carnage broke.

“We urge the world, especially Western countries, to take a firm stand against terrorism,” Erdogan said in a statement.

“Despite paying a heavy price, Turkey has the power, determination and capacity to continue the fight against terrorism until the end.”

A weapon is seen on the floor at Ataturk airport after suicide bombers opened fire before blowing themselves up at the entrance.—Reuters
A weapon is seen on the floor at Ataturk airport after suicide bombers opened fire before blowing themselves up at the entrance.—Reuters

Istanbul, a major tourism hub that is home to some 15 million people, has suffered a series of attacks in recent months, including a bombing in the heart of the tourist district that killed a dozen German visitors and was blamed on IS.

Two months later, three Israelis and an Iranian were killed in a bombing on the city's main Istiklal shopping street, also blamed on IS.

A blast on the tarmac at Istanbul's other international airport, Sabiha Gokcen, killed a cleaner in December.

Turkey has been hit by at least five attacks blamed on IS militants, including a blast in Ankara in October 2015 that left over 100 dead, though the group has never formally claimed responsibility for an attack in Turkey.

Ankara has meanwhile launched a sustained offensive against the outlawed rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) following the collapse of a ceasefire last year.

Hundreds of members of the Turkish security forces have since been killed in PKK attacks.

Flights resume

Ataturk is Turkey's largest airport and a major transport hub for travellers from around the world.

A helicopter buzzed overhead as police evacuated the building.

Dozens of passengers walked back down access roads with their luggage, trying to hail cabs.

Passengers wait at the Ataturk airport's main enterance in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016.— AFP
Passengers wait at the Ataturk airport's main enterance in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016.— AFP

Authorities initially halted the takeoff of scheduled flights from the airport and some flights to the airport were diverted.

Yildirim said later air traffic had resumed.

Turkish Airlines said it had suspended its flights until 8:00am (0500 GMT) on Wednesday and that any bookings on flights to or from Ataturk airport could be changed or refunded without cost for the next week.

In the US, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reacted to the explosions by putting armed, high-visibility patrols at the three main airports in the New York metropolitan region.

The US Federal Aviation authority also lifted an earlier order grounding US flights to Ataturk.

Pakistan condemns 'mindless' Istanbul attack

Pakistan has strongly condemned the terror attack at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.

"It is with deep anguish and pain that we have learnt about the terrorist attack at Ataturk airport in Istanbul. We condemn this mindless act of terrorism in the strongest possible terms," Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said in a statement.

Forensic police work the site at Ataturk airport — AFP
Forensic police work the site at Ataturk airport — AFP

Pakistan condemns terrorism in all forms and stands in solidarity with the people of Turkey in their fight against terrorism, he said.

Prime Minister Nawaz sharif while condemning the terror attack offered his condolences to the government and people of Turkey.

The US condemned what it called the “heinous” bombing and gun attack at Istanbul's Ataturk airport and pledged its “steadfast” support for Turkey.

“Ataturk International Airport, like Brussels Airport which was attacked earlier this year, is a symbol of international connections and the ties that bind us together,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.

“We remain steadfast in our support for Turkey, our Nato ally and partner, along with all of our friends and allies around the world, as we continue to confront the threat of terrorism."

UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon also condemned the attack.

“He expresses his deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Turkey. He wishes a speedy recovery to those injured," and hoped that "the perpetrators of this crime will be identified and brought to justice.”

With additional reporting by Mateen Haider in Islamabad.

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Comments (80) Closed



Zak Jun 29, 2016 01:07am

This is repeat of karachi airport attack by foreign funded terrorists, but our commandos stopped them at the perimeters and finished all 12 of them. We lost one commando, who was asked for water by a badly injured terrorist, when he went to give him some, the terrorist detonated a hidden bomb Behind his back.

Enes keleş Jun 29, 2016 01:25am

I am from turkey. God damn terrorism

Ahmed USA Jun 29, 2016 01:41am

OMG... Prayers for everyone's safety... May the departed soul rest in peace...

Prashant Jun 29, 2016 01:57am

My friend's flight from Netherland had 3 hours stopover in Istanbul and his flight left just two hour before the attack!! I was so shocked to see this news, was almost trembling, than opened my PC and checked the flight status, his flight was safe.

If there was any kind of delay which is normal in long distance flight he may have been caught into this incident :( RIP those died.

vsh Jun 29, 2016 02:17am

whats happening around the world.... really concerned.

Factual Jun 29, 2016 02:22am

My deepest condolences for Turkish brothers. Just few days ago I was at same airport and same terminal. What beautiful country Turkey is and how wonderfully sweet its people are. My heart goes out to Turkish people in this time of tragedy.

prem Jun 29, 2016 02:34am

It's sad...

Ray17 Jun 29, 2016 02:35am

Deep condolences for the innocents killed and prayers for turks !!

ripan Jun 29, 2016 02:41am

Just when peace was at place with Israel.

ripan Jun 29, 2016 02:42am

Just when peace was at place with Israel.

Hassan Jun 29, 2016 02:45am

Sorry to read this for Turk brothers but they didnt learn from us when we went to war in our neighborhood for political reasons and are still paying the price after 35 years. They are now apologising Russia, hugging Israel, not letting syrian migrants in and facing the terrorism monster , they have lost both on moral and physical grounds.

Lafanga Jun 29, 2016 02:51am

This is crazy. My heart bleeds. RIP.

anony Jun 29, 2016 02:59am

Condolences to Turkey. We as Pakistanis stand united with you.

Cavalier Jun 29, 2016 03:07am

Aympathies and condolences for our Turk brothers from Pakistan.

asad Jun 29, 2016 03:06am

another bad news

Ahmad Jun 29, 2016 03:47am

My heart goes to our Turkish brothers. Please stay strong, together we will beat the menace of terrorism and the fanatics, who will stop at nothing.

Motherland Jun 29, 2016 03:49am

V v unfortunate. What is meant to kill innocent people???

javeed Jun 29, 2016 03:58am

Sad To hear about this. Condolances with the families of those who got killed. Both Pakistan & Turkey need to strength their relations & help each other in intellegencia!

Ahmad Jun 29, 2016 04:03am

It is painful ..

Zak Jun 29, 2016 04:09am

This is unacceptable , as brotherly country of Pakistan, enemies of Turkey will face the wrath of Pakistan, We should lend our vast and unparalled expertise in dealing with terrorism to Turkey, Raheel himself should lead a high powered team with expertise in anti terrorism operations to Turkey immediately .

VEN Jun 29, 2016 04:10am

Pray for peace to return & strength to all the families grieving, speedy recovery for those injured.

SBB Jun 29, 2016 04:13am

@Hassan This is a very insightful comment Sir... and I agree with you. I wish for peace in their region.

Careless Whispers Jun 29, 2016 04:18am

We Stand by our Turkish brothers during this sad event, may the departed souls RIP.

tamil Jun 29, 2016 04:20am

Tears and prayers from India, Turkey should join India and like minded nations to eliminate terrorism from this world.

Malik Jun 29, 2016 04:27am

May God protect out Turkish brothers and sisters, we stand united with them.

Zak Jun 29, 2016 04:40am

We are with Turkey our brothers. Pakistan should extend any help they may need.

A shah Jun 29, 2016 04:47am

sad to hear. My family are flying back from Istanbul tomorrow. Don't want to imagine if it was today!

Azhar Jun 29, 2016 05:09am

Prayers for brothers and sisters in Turkey

SyedChaudhryGangaDinKhan Jun 29, 2016 05:10am

Very sad and surprising. This is a very large and very secure airport. first time that I saw machine guns on any airport was this airport in 1974.

Kyoorius Jun 29, 2016 05:15am

Innocent lives lost. When will we learn?

Moona Jun 29, 2016 05:17am

Not again! This is so painful.

Shoaib Jun 29, 2016 05:27am

Heartfelt condolences with our turkish brothers and with the families of the deceased...

Vijay Jun 29, 2016 05:33am

@anony I thought Turkey is standing united with Israel.

Another Indian Jun 29, 2016 05:47am

@anony ... What for, exactly?

Muhammad Jun 29, 2016 05:53am

@Hassan well said sir!

Abdulla Hussain Jun 29, 2016 06:06am

These terrorists are pathetic peoples deserving no mercy. Sad event so many innocent lives lost God knows what these terrorists are upto.

kalhoro Jun 29, 2016 06:07am

Pakistan also gone through similar attack in Karachi airport, may be same group is responsible.

aditya Jun 29, 2016 06:18am

muslims slaughtering muslims..

Parag Jun 29, 2016 06:33am

Who supports Terror..Terror makes them there victim first..Stop supporting Terror in all way..nothing is Good or Bad Terror..Terror is Terror.. InHuman..

Poker star Jun 29, 2016 06:48am

Another Islamic nation on verge of collapse

MD Jun 29, 2016 06:59am

Makes Trump more stronger to win the White House and make US safe and great.

Shan Jun 29, 2016 07:20am

Hopefully this has nothing to do with Pakistani extremists.

Chris Jun 29, 2016 07:22am

an evil act

ZULFIQAR AHMED Jun 29, 2016 08:02am

rest in peace dearly departed. To the people of Turkey we Pakistanis feel your pain and stand together with for we've gone through such brutal attacks ourselves. Stay strong Turkey. LOve from Pakistan!

CALCUTTA MAN Jun 29, 2016 08:54am

@Parag

Well said. And Turkey also covertly buys oil from IS...

butterfly Jun 29, 2016 09:36am

@ Hassan! spot on!

farah naz Jun 29, 2016 09:41am

Condolences to Turkey.

iftikhar choudry Jun 29, 2016 10:04am

We can feel the pain as our turkish brothers suffer.

Abdul Khaliq Jun 29, 2016 10:16am

Peace and peaceful means have vanished into oblivion. Violence has taken scores of lives everywhere without resolving any of such conflicts. Humanity and humility are on the verge of extinction. Humans are on the path of self-destruction.

chetan Jun 29, 2016 10:21am

Humble condolences.

Sunil Jun 29, 2016 10:45am

@anony Only in words.

Sunil Jun 29, 2016 11:07am

What do the terrorist get by doing this?

Motherland Jun 29, 2016 11:46am

Its Amazing IS (claims to be superior muslim) works on anti- muslims agenda.

Ali Jun 29, 2016 11:57am

Whole Pakistan stand with Turkey. you are not alone in this war.

Valiya Jun 29, 2016 12:11pm

@aditya In holy month too.

S.P Jun 29, 2016 12:29pm

Really sad to hear about this incident.May God bless those peoples who are injured and those who passed away in this incident.May God also unsuccessful terrorists in their dangerous aims.

naqeeb Jun 29, 2016 12:39pm

So sad.

Ind Jun 29, 2016 12:51pm

An inhuman act, must be condemned by every human

Raja Khalid Jun 29, 2016 01:00pm

I have seen the footage of blast, need to end this brain-washed technique that terrorists used. We stand united with the people of Turkey.

Debadutta Jun 29, 2016 01:25pm

@Zak Yes Pakistani commandos are the bravest and the most efficient in the whole world.

giab Jun 29, 2016 01:57pm

We need to look at our security too, All major airport from outside are very bad. there is no security, airport is full of non relevant people. ASF is failed to control the crowed. I am not sure what we are waiting for

Rahat Ali Jun 29, 2016 04:56pm

@Motherland

ISIS backlash against Turkey is expected. Turkey was supporting them including buying and selling their oil, but as soon as Russia entered the war and the ISIS started getting routed the Turkey help to ISIS was simply not enough. Now recently they lost their stronghold Fallujah too. ISIS has reason to be sore against Turkey as they are feeling used and abandoned by Turkey.

Ravi Vancouver Jun 29, 2016 05:25pm

Terrorists have no respect for holy month of Ramadan and Muslim sentiments. All sympathy for innocent victims. This hatred culture and bloodshed of innocents must stop. All countries should work together to stop terrorism for whatever reason.

US CENTCOM Jun 29, 2016 05:26pm

My deepest condolences go out to the victims' families. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected.

Ali Khan Digital Engagement Team, USCENTCOM

SAEED MASOOD Jun 29, 2016 05:46pm

Very very sad very very bad...the enemy is destroying each and every Muslim country one after the other...All the Muslim countries must unite and fight and crush the enemy once for all before it is too late...

Imran Jun 29, 2016 06:00pm

Brothers of Turkey. We are with you. Sad :(

imran ali Jun 29, 2016 06:37pm

what a barbarity in the name of Religion and in the month of Ramadan..

ZULFIQAR Jun 29, 2016 06:56pm

@Enes keleş Our Condelence are with Turkish We all Muslim Countries are Victim of Terrorism Think about it after Sep/11 More Muslim Killed than West Think about it Again Why Muslim that is Million $ Question

Mansoor Khan Jun 29, 2016 07:55pm

Killing innocent people, particularly in the holy month of Ramadan, can't be a Muslim act. The people responsible for this heinous act are worst of the worse. They are inhuman!

Pintu Kumar Jun 29, 2016 08:45pm

Turkey responsible for that they funded money for ISIS....

Ahsan Gul Jun 29, 2016 09:01pm

I have many Turkish friends and love them. This carnage is caused by so called muslims with contorted views who have nothing to do with Islam. Not only in Pakistan but all Muslim countries have people who carry out destructive commands from their ignorant leaders. A muslim cannot hurt a cat or a dog then how these people take lives of innocent people and claim themselves muslims?

anony Jun 29, 2016 09:24pm

We Pakistanis stand united with our Turkish brothers and sisters during this dreadful hour. Stay strong. We are also victims of terrorism and know that it's not easy.

Srinath Jun 29, 2016 11:12pm

Isis say they fight for Muslims.... now why do they kill Muslims??? Why do I always find no Islamic country in peace???

Mullah Dewana Jun 30, 2016 02:13am

@SAEED MASOOD The real enemy is extremism but Islamic countries live in self-denial mode

Cavalier Jun 30, 2016 02:36am

We stand with our turkish brothers with all the resolve.

SyedChaudhryGangaDinKhan Jun 30, 2016 04:15am

So many people were killed but do you see any 'Shaheed'? If this happened in Pakistan, every dead rat will be called 'Shaheed".

Prashant Jun 30, 2016 03:54pm

@Raja Khalid what religious person isn't brain washed. .. Yeah I saw the footage too...no one can call it false flag this time.

Soman Jun 30, 2016 05:05pm

What a tragic incident, as usual. This the price one has to pay for throwing the great visionary leader like Mustafa Kemal Ataturk into the dustbin of history. This tragedy has been purchased by the current leadership at his cost.

s.khan Jun 30, 2016 05:30pm

Erdogan's policy of supporting the rebels against Assad of Syria is responsible for terrorism in Turkey. He followed the same policy as Pakistan-supporting the rebels and turning against them under pressure from USA. Turkey has been a transit for the fighters coming from many countries to join ISIS. He also supported ISIS attacking Kurdish area of Kubani and Turkish forces were just the observer and blocked Kurdish fighters from Iraq joining their brothers in Syria to repel ISIS. Turkey will not be at peace so long Erdogan is in power. His policy is a problem. Sad for the loss of innocent lives. It is time these bozos( leaders in Pakistan and Turkey) think of repercussions before making policy decisions.

Random Jun 30, 2016 06:37pm

Heartfelt condolences and may their souls rest in peace.