Terrorists kill 41 at Istanbul airport

Terrorists kill 41 at Istanbul airport

Terrorists kill 41 at Istanbul airport

Three suspected Islamic State suicide bombers opened fire and blew themselves up in Istanbul’s main airport, killing at least 41 people and wounding 239 others on Wednesday.

The attack on Europe’s third-busiest airport was the deadliest in a series of suicide bombings this year in Turkey, which is part of the US-led coalition against the IS. Ankara is also struggling to contain a spillover from war-torn Syria.

One attacker opened fire in the departures hall with an automatic rifle, sending passengers diving for cover. All three blew themselves up in or around the arrivals hall a floor below, officials said.

Video footage showed one of the attackers inside the terminal building being shot, apparently by a police officer. The attacker then blew himself up about 20 seconds later.

“It’s a jigsaw puzzle... The authorities are going through CCTV footage, witness statements,” a Turkish official said.

“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,” said Diana Eltner, 29, a Swiss psychologist who was travelling from Zurich to Vietnam but had been diverted to Istanbul after she missed a connection.

The attackers had come to the airport by taxi and preliminary findings pointed to Islamic State responsibility. Two US counterterrorism officials familiar with the early stages of investigations said the bombing was more typical of IS than of Kurdish militant groups.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attack should serve as a turning point in the global fight against terrorism, which he said had “no regard for faith or values”. US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned it in separate phone calls with Erdogan, his office said.

Istanbul’s position bridging Europe and Asia has made Ataturk airport, Turkey’s largest, a major transit hub for passengers across the world. The Istanbul governor’s office said 109 of the 239 people hospitalised had since been discharged. The health minister said 41 were still in intensive care. The national carrier said it had cancelled 340 flights although its departures resumed after 8 am (10.30 am IST).