World leaders have denounced triple suicide bombings at Istanbul airport, which Turkey has blamed on so-called “Islamic State” militants. As many as 36 people were killed and close to 150 injured.
Reports say three attackers arrived by taxi and began spraying bullets at the terminal entrance to Ataturk airport before blowing themselves up at around 10pm local time (19:00 UTC). Several foreigners were among those killed and injured, along with police officers.
One of the attackers detonated explosives by a security checkpoint, while another blew himself up outside the terminal and the third in a parking area, Turkish officials said.
One eyewitness, Hevin Zini, 12, had just arrived from Düsseldorf, Germany, with her family and was in tears from the shock.
“There was blood on the ground,” she told The Associated Press. “Everything was blown up to bits… if we had arrived two minutes earlier, it could have been us.”
A woman named Duygu, who had also just arrived from Germany, said she threw herself onto the floor as she heard the explosion.
“Everyone started running away. Everywhere was covered with blood and body parts. I saw bullet holes on the doors,” she added.
Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the carnage, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yidirim said the evidence pointed to the “Islamic State” (IS) militant group.
The attacks took place as a plane carrying Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama was landing at the airport. He was arriving on an official visit and was safely taken to an official residence.
The blasts were the deadliest of four attacks to rock Turkey’s biggest city this year, with two others blamed on IS and another claimed by a militant Kurdish group.
The airport remained closed for several hours but later reopened. Washington temporarily grounded all flights to and from the airport.
mm/jr (AP, AFP, Reuters)