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Ataturk Airport - what we know

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Ataturk Airport - what we know

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What happened?

Three suicide bombers opened fire and then blew themselves up in Istanbul’s main international airport.

It happened at around 2150 local time (1850 GMT)

  • One attacker opened fire in the departures hall
  • Police fired shots to try and stop two other attackers before they reached a security checkpoint in Arrivals on the floor below Departures
  • All three then blew themselves up in the Arrivals hall

    Was anyone killed?

Yes.

The governor of Istanbul says at least 41 people have died.

239 have been injured.

What was the nationality of those who died?

Officials say the majority were Turkish nationals.

However, some foreigners were among those killed and injured.

13 of the dead are said to be foreign nationals.

Media reports have given their nationalities as follows:

  • five from Saudi Arabia
  • two from Iraq
  • one from China
  • one from Jordan
  • one from Tunisia
  • one from Uzbekistan
  • one from Iran
  • one from Ukraine

(Source: BBC)

What do we know about the attackers?

Not much.

At the time of writing, no groups have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Turkey is part of the US-led coalition against ISIL and has to tackle spillover from the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

There is also insurgency by Kurdish militants in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast.

Speaking to the Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, two US counter-terrorism officials have said the attack bears all the hallmarks of ISIL:

  • The use of suicide bombers against “soft” targets is typical
  • ISIL rarely admits responsibility as Turkey is a main corridor for its fighters from Europe to Syria and Iraq
  • The attack bears similarities to the ISIL-linked March bombing at Brussels Airport and on the metro that claimed 32 lives.

    How big is Ataturk Airport?

Huge, both in terms of size and significance.

It is Turkey’s largest airport and the third-busiest in Europe. It is a major international transport hub for travelers from around the world.

Take-offs were initially suspended and arrivals diverted.

Turkey has been targeted before, hasn’t it?

Yes.

There has been a spate of bombings over the last year.

These include:

  • Two suicide attacks on tourist areas in Istanbul blamed on ISIL
  • Two car bombings in Ankara claimed by a Kurdish militant group

    What they are saying

“The attack, which took place during the holy month of Ramadan, shows that terrorism strikes with no regard for faith and values,” – a statement from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“This attack, targeting innocent people, is a vile, planned, terrorist act,” – Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

“Everyone started running away. Everywhere was covered with blood and body parts. I saw bullet holes on the doors,” – eyewitness identified only as Duygu, travelling in from Germany.

“He was wearing all black. His face was not masked.” – 77-year-old South African holidaymaker Paul Roos describes seeing one of the attackers randomly shooting.

“There were little babies crying, people shouting, broken glass and blood all over the floor. It was very crowded, there was chaos. It was traumatic,” – Swiss psychologist Diana Eltner.

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