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  Turkey blames ISIS for strike

Turkey blames ISIS for strike

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Published : Jun 30, 2016, 4:30 am IST
Updated : Jun 30, 2016, 4:30 am IST

At least 41 people were killed and 239 wounded late Tuesday night in gun attacks and triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in the latest terror strike to rock Turkey’s capital city.

Passengers embrace each other at the entrance to Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. (Photo: AP)
 Passengers embrace each other at the entrance to Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. (Photo: AP)

At least 41 people were killed and 239 wounded late Tuesday night in gun attacks and triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in the latest terror strike to rock Turkey’s capital city.

Of those who lost their lives, 13 were foreign nationals — five from Saudi Arabia, two from Iraq, and one each from Tunisia, Uzbekistan, China, Iran, Ukraine and Jordan.

Of the 239 wounded, 109 had been discharged from hospital at the time of going to press. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said early signs pointed to Islamic State.

According to officials, the three attackers arrived in a taxi and began spraying bullets at airport guards at the terminal entrance. A shootout erupted after which they blew themselves up one by one at around 1900 GMT. According to a CNN report, two of the attackers were at the international terminal, and the third terrorist in a nearby parking lot.

The Dogan news agency said autopsies on the three dead men suggested they may be foreign nationals but this has not been confirmed.

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 then blowing himself up.

Witnesses described scenes of panic as the blasts hit, while images on social media showed passengers lying on the floor and luggage trolleys overturned.

“It was very strong, everyone panicked and started running in all directions,” one witness told CNN Turk.

Mr Yildirim said, “The fact that they were carrying guns added to the toll.” Ataturk airport is the 11th busiest in the world in terms of passenger traffic.

Turkey has declared Wednesday a day of national mourning. After the attack, police set up a security cordon around the site, and all flights in and out of the airport were suspended. Most airlines had resumed services by Wednesday evening.

The Turkish airport attack follows coordinated suicide bombings at Brussels airport and a city metro station in March that left 32 people dead.

Brussels airport tweeted its condolences, saying: “Our thoughts are with the victims of the attacks at @istanbulairport. We wish them, their relatives & all airport staff strength & courage.”

Terrorists who attacked the Brussels airport had also arrived in a taxi.

Turkey, which has been hit by a string of deadly attacks in the past year, blamed on both Kurdish rebels and the IS, remains on high security alert.

IS has never claimed an attack in Turkey. But authorities have blamed the group for several attacks, including a blast in Ankara in October 2015 that left over 100 people dead and an attack on Istanbul’s busy tourist district Istiklal Street which killed three Israelis and an Iranian.

Witness Laurence Cameron said, “I was in the airport this morning looking for my lost luggage. They were sweeping up debris, and someone had hung up a big Turkish flag, pretty much right at the spot where (a) bomb had gone off — sort of an act of defiance, which was quite moving.”

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged an international “joint fight” against terror after the attack, the fourth deadly bombing in Istanbul this year alone.

Location: Turkey, Istanbul