Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Istanbul Ataturk airport attack: 36 dead and more than 140 hurt


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  • From the sectionEurope
Ataturk airport on 28 June after a suicide attackImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionTurkey said early signs suggested so-called Islamic State was behind the attack
A gun and bomb attack on Istanbul's Ataturk international airport has killed 36 people and injured more than 140 others, officials say.
Three attackers began shooting outside and inside the terminal late on Tuesday and blew themselves up after police fired at them, officials say.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said early signs suggested the so-called Islamic State was behind the attack.
Recent bombings have been linked to either IS or Kurdish separatists.
Tuesday's attack looked like a major co-ordinated assault, says the BBC's Mark Lowen.
Ataturk airport has long been seen as a vulnerable target, our Turkey correspondent adds, reporting from a plane stuck on the tarmac in Istanbul.
There are X-ray scanners at the entrance to the terminal but security checks for cars are limited.
Media captionBBC reporter Mark Lowen reports from on board a plane stuck on the tarmac
Pictures from the airport terminal showed bodies covered in sheets, with glass and abandoned luggage littering the building.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attack should serve as a turning point in the global fight against militant groups.
"The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world," he said.
The US called the attack "heinous", saying America remained "steadfast in our support for Turkey".
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "We grieve for the victims. We stand by Turkey".

'Dressed in black'

Speaking several hours after Tuesday's attack, Mr Yildirim said at least 36 people were killed and many wounded, some seriously, with foreigners likely to be among the victims.
Media captionFootage shows passengers taking cover inside the airport
Media captionWill Carter, eyewitness: "We saw a flash of fire"
He said the attackers had arrived at the airport in a taxi.
Footage on social media shows one of the attackers running in the departure hall as people around him flee. He is shot by police and remains on the ground for about 20 seconds before blowing himself up. All three attackers were killed.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag put the number of injured at 147.
Taxis were used to rush casualties to hospital after the attack. Desperate relatives of those missing later gathered outside a local hospital where many victims were taken. Some expressed anger about the lack of information.
Flights in and out of the airport were suspended after the attack. The US Federal Aviation Administration initially grounded all services between the US and Istanbul but the stoppage was later lifted.
Flights have now resumed at the airport, but information boards showed about one-third had been cancelled, with many delays.
People walk away from Istanbul Ataturk airportImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionTerrified passengers were seen leaving the airport on foot
An armed police officer at Istanbul's Ataturk airportImage copyrightAFP
Image captionArmed police sealed off the area
A Kalashnikov assault rifle is seen on the floor at Ataturk airportImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionA Kalashnikov assault rifle was later found at the scene of the attack
Ambulances arrive at Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, Turkey, following a blast June 28, 2016Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionAmbulances flocked to the airport after explosions were heard
Medics take an injured man to hospital in IstanbulImage copyrightEPA
Image captionA number of injured people were taken to local hospitals
Paul Roos, who was due to fly home to South Africa, told Reuters he saw one of the attackers.
"He was wearing all black. His face was not masked. 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.
"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."
Charles Michel, the Prime Minister of Belgium whose capital city was targeted by bombers in Marchtweeted from the EU summit in Brussels: "Our thoughts are with the victims of the attacks at Istanbul's airport. We condemn these atrocious acts of violence."
#PrayforTurkey began trending on Twitter after the attack.
In December, a blast on the tarmac at a different Istanbul airport, Sabiha Gokcen, killed a cleaner. That attack was claimed by a Kurdish group, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK).

Major recent attacks

2016
7 June, Istanbul: Car bomb kills seven police officers and four civilians. Claimed by Kurdish militant group TAK
19 March, Istanbul: Suicide bomb kills four people in shopping street. IS blamed.
13 March, Ankara: Car bomb kills 34. Claimed by TAK.
17 February, Ankara: 29 killed in attack on military busses. Claimed by TAK
12 January, Istanbul: 11 Germans killed by Syrian bomber in tourist area
2015
23 December, Istanbul: Bomb kills cleaner at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport. Claimed by TAK
10 October, Ankara: More than 100 killed at peace rally outside railway station. Claimed by IS
20 July, Suruc, near Syrian border: 34 people killed in bombing in Kurdish town. IS blamed

More than 61 million passengers travelled through Ataturk airport in 2015.
However, security concerns and a Russian boycott over last year's downing of a Russian military jet on the Turkey-Syria border have hit the Turkish tourist sector this year.
A US state department travel warning for Turkey, originally published in March and updated on Monday, urges US citizens to "exercise heightened vigilance and caution when visiting public access areas, especially those heavily frequented by tourists."

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