A series of deadly explosions tore through crowds at Atatürk International Airport on Tuesday evening in a suicide bomber attack. Officials’ blame the Islamic State.
Gunmen armed with Kalashnikov’s and suicide vests stormed the entrance to Istanbul’s largest airport, the Ataturk Airport shortly after 9pm on Tuesday, leaving 36 dead and 147 others injured.
Turkey’s prime minister has said the attack was carried out by the ISIS although the separatist network has not yet claimed responsibility.
Recent evidence suggests that at least two gunmen were involved in the assault although the authorities suspect a third man has also participated.
It is believed the suicide bombers took a taxi to the airport and emerged at the international arrivals terminal where they were unable to go through the airport’s x-ray security checkpoint. This made the security and the suspicious men open fire that caught up innocent civilians.
A South African tourist Paul Roos described witnessing an armed man dressed in black shooting at people indiscriminately.
“We came right to international departures and saw the man randomly shooting. He was just firing at anyone coming in front of him.
He was wearing all black. His face was not masked. I was 50 meters away from him.
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. 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.”
Several video clips trending on social media purport to show the actual attack at the airport. One of these shows a man dressed in black carrying what appears to be a Kalashnikov running into a hallway. He seems to get shot and falls on the floor, dropping the weapon from his arm.
A security officer is seen approaching the prone gunman and pointing a gun at him for a few seconds. The security officer then flees from the man seconds before the apt bomber detonates the explosive vest he is wearing.
The attack on the third busiest airport in Europe is yet another ‘soft target’ attack following a series of previous attacks on Turkey this year alone.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the attack showed “the dark face of terror that targets innocent civilians.”
“This attack does not produce any results; it aims to create propaganda against our country using the blood and pain of innocent people.”
Atatürk airport was closed for only a matter of hours before being reopened to flights in and out of the country.