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Death Toll Rises to 36 in Suicide Bomb Attack on Istanbul Airport

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ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JUNE 28: Security and ambulances block the road outside Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, after it was hit by a suicide bomb attack on June 28, 2016, Turkey. Two suicide bombers opened fire before blowing themselves up at the entrance to the main international airport in Istanbul, killing at least 10 people and wounding at least 60 people according to Justice Minister Bekir Bozdagç. (Photo by Mehmet Ali Poyraz/Getty Images)

The number of deaths has risen to 36 and the number of injured close to 150, after three suicide bombers opened fire then blew themselves up in Istanbul’s main international airport on Tuesday.

One attacker opened fire in the departures hall with an automatic rifle, sending passengers diving for cover and trying to flee, before all three blew themselves up in or around the arrivals hall a floor below, witnesses and officials said.

The attack on Europe’s third-busiest airport is one of the deadliest in a series of suicide bombings in Turkey, which is struggling to contain the spillover from neighbouring Syria’s civil war and battling an insurgency by Kurdish militants in its southeast.

Police fired shots to try to stop two of the attackers just before they reached a security checkpoint at the arrivals hall, but they detonated their explosives, a Turkish official said.

“It became clear with this incident again that terrorism is a global threat. This attack, targeting innocent people is a vile, planned terrorist act,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters at the airport.

“There is initial evidence that each of the three suicide bombers blew themselves up after opening fire,” he said, adding that they had come to the airport by taxi and that preliminary findings pointed to Islamic State responsibility.

The vast majority of those killed were Turkish nationals but foreigners were also among the dead, the official said.

“There was a huge explosion, extremely loud. The roof came down. Inside the airport it is terrible, you can’t recognise it, the damage is big,” said Ali Tekin, who was at the arrivals hall waiting for a guest when the attack took place.

A woman named Duygu, who was at passport control having just arrived from Germany, said she threw herself onto the floor with the sound of the explosion.

Several witnesses also reported hearing gunfire shortly before the attacks.

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

As at the time of filing this report, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which started around 9:50 PM (1850 GMT).

The attack bore similarities to a suicide bombing by Islamic State militants at Brussels airport in March which killed about 28 people.

A coordinated attack also targeted a rush-hour metro train, killing a further 16 people in the Belgian capital.

Paul Roos, 77, described seeing one of the attackers “randomly shooting” in the departures hall.

“He was just firing at anyone coming in front of him. He was wearing all black. His face was not masked. I was 50 metres away from him,” said Roos, a South African returning to Cape Town with his wife 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.”

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 bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world,” he said, urging all governments to join forces against terrorism.

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

Turkey has suffered a spate of bombings this year, including two suicide attacks in tourist areas of Istanbul blamed on Islamic State, and two car bombings in the capital, Ankara, which were claimed by a Kurdish militant group.

In the most recent attack, a car bomb ripped through a police bus in central Istanbul during the morning rush hour, killing 11 people and wounding 36 near the main tourist district, a major university and the mayor’s office.

Turkey, which is part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, is also fighting Kurdish militants in its largely Kurdish southeast.

 Photo Credit: Mehmet Ali Poyraz/Getty Images

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4 Comments

  1. keke driver

    June 29, 2016 at 10:24 am

    This is the time where the world has to unite and fight these evil people….They keep saying Islam is a religion of peace, but i’m yet to see ANY christian group bomb ANYWHERE…..WE NEED TO UNITE!!!

  2. "changing moniker"

    June 29, 2016 at 11:57 am

    nowhere is safe!
    God please protect us.

  3. Prince

    June 29, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    They should call their people to order. This is what happens when you raised your child up making them believe the only way to air their view is with force since that’s how Muhammad brought his religion to people.
    Go study on how their prophet killed people that were against his doctrines and beliefs, you’ll know that these people are merely leaving after his footsteps. Everything about them is force.

  4. PeaceMaker

    June 29, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Keke and Prince please stop! First of all. You’re crying more than the bereaved with your self righteous yet selfish and insensitive words. Muslims are the worst hit victims of this very problem and also have deal with hate from the likes of you ……..it’s a lot to deal with and your words only plays into the hands of what these evil people want to achieve.

    Hate only makes you a disciple of the devil…..careful what narrative, source of information and interpretation you give an entire religion. This is just politics and power amongst evil people.
    Go back in time, Christians also burnt many alive and killed many in crusades in the quest for power….

    The prophet did not kill people against his doctrines….it was the other way round. Go and educate yourself. For 13 years, Muslims were being killed, tortured and rendered homeless by disbelievers/ idol worshippers in Mecca and not allowed to worship God. Then they fled to a city called Medina and these people came after them there too and that was when they were instructed by God to fight in defense……many Quranic verses and the Hadith re iterate that one shouldn’t kill innocents or even if you’re attached and the person makes peace, you should also yield to peace.

    Don’t because of bias cherry pick ad quote random information you get out of context. It’s not helpful to anyone.

    We should all make choices to be kind to one another and co exist peacefully instead of playing the devil’s advocate.

    I’m commenting for those out there with kinder hearts who might read this and not be misled by the negative rhetorics against an entire religion.

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