Istanbul attack: At least 36 killed in airport terrorist explosions

Three suicide bombers open fire and detonate explosives at city’s main airport

 

A total of 36 people were killed and 150 more wounded in Tuesday’s attack on Istanbul’s main international airport, broadcaster HaberTurk said, citing minister for justice Bekir Bozdag.

Three suicide bombers opened fire before blowing themselves up in the main international airport in Istanbul on Tuesday, the provincial governor and witnesses said.

Police exchanged fire with two people at the entrance to the international terminal building and a Turkish official said one of the attackers opened fire with a Kalashnikov before they blew themselves up. Gunfire was also heard in a nearby car park.

Private Turkish television networks broadcast footage of lines of ambulances attempting to enter the airport, which was closed within hours of the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, one of the deadliest to hit Turkey’s largest city in years.

About 60 million people a year use the airport, making it one of the busiest in the world.

Dublin flight

Turkish Airlines operates two flights daily from Dublin to Ataturk airport, and a flight from Dublin scheduled to land at 11pm is believed to have landed as scheduled.

The attack is not the first to target the city’s airports in recent months. On December 23rd a bombing that killed one person in Istanbul’s second airport in the Anatolian district was claimed by a little-known breakaway Kurdish militant group, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, or Tak.

Tak has also claimed responsibility for an attack on police officers in Istanbul this month that killed 11 people and, like Islamic State, uses suicide bombers.

Retaliation

Turkey has been fighting Islamic State and separatist Kurdish militants who have carried out at least six deadly attacks in major Turkish cities this year.

Tak says its operations have been in retaliation for the government’s military campaigns in Kurdish towns and villages in the southeast, in which hundreds of civilians have died in clashes since the breakdown of a ceasefire between Ankara and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, last July.

Attacks on tourist sites in January and March carried out by Islamic State killed more than a dozen people including a number of foreign tourists, and the jihadist group has promised to up its campaign against foreign targets in Turkey.

Turkey shares a 900km border with Syria, of which 100km is controlled on the Syrian side by Islamic State.

There was no indication of any Irish citizens being caught up in the attack, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. The embassy in Ankara was monitoring the situation.

Speaking in parliament, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said earlier that based on initial information he could only confirm that there had been one attacker.

Gunfire

Television footage showed ambulances rushing to the scene. One witness told CNN Turk that gunfire was heard from the car park at the airport. Taxis were ferrying wounded people from the airport, said the witness.

Authorities halted the takeoff of scheduled flights from the airport and passengers were transferred to hotels, said a Turkish Airlines official. Earlier an airport official said some flights to the airport had been diverted.

The head of Red Crescent, Kerem Kinik, said on CNN Turk that people should go to blood donation centres and not hospitals to give blood and called on people to avoid main roads to the airport to avoid blocking path of emergency vehicles.

Additional reporting: Reuters