Istanbul Airport Attack| 36 dead and Nearly 147 injured
Three suicide attackers killed at least 36 people and wounded dozens more at Istanbul’s main airport on Tuesday night, in the latest in a string of terrorist attacks in Turkey, a NATO ally once seen as a bastion of stability but now increasingly consumed by the chaos of the Middle East.
Hours after the assault, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim of Turkey said that early indications pointed to an operation carried out by the Islamic State, but as of early Wednesday, the group had not claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack began shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, Turkish officials said, when two gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons at a security checkpoint outside Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, one of Europe’s busiest. They then detonated their explosives, setting off two fireballs. A third attacker set off explosives in the parking lot.
Turkey has faced a string of terrorist attacks over the past year, including several in Istanbul, as it confronts threats from both the Islamic State and Kurdish militants fighting a war with the Turkish state in the southeast.
Mr. Yildirim said that the three attackers killed at least 36 people, and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that 147 people were wounded.
Most of the dead were Turks, although some were foreigners, Mr. Yildirim said. The three attackers were killed when they detonated their explosives, he said.
Outside the terminal on Tuesday night, as calls went out on local news channels for blood donors and the Turkish authorities imposed a ban on publishing images of the scene of the attack, ambulances streamed in, while hundreds of dazed and scared travelers sat on the sidewalk waiting for information. And more travelers, many in tears, were streaming out of the airport.
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“There were blood splatters everywhere,” said Eylul Kaya, 37, sitting outside with her 1-year-old son. “I covered my boy’s eyes and we ran out.”
As Turkey has faced several deadly terrorist attacks over the past year, Ms. Kaya said, she never thought she would find herself in the middle of one. “We’ve watched these attacks on TV for months, but I never imagined it would happen with so much security in an airport,” she said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan noted that the bombing came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and he called for global unity in the fight against terrorism.
Turkey has held itself up as an exemplar of a Muslim democracy and has sought to influence the region by reaching out to its Muslim neighbours. Early on, when Syria slipped into civil war in 2011, Turkey pushed for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad and began helping Syrian rebel groups, allowing the transit of fighters and weapons across its territory.
Turkey’s Western allies, including the United States, blamed the country’s open-border policy for allowing extremist groups like the Islamic State to become powerful inside Syria, and the chaos has increasingly spilled over into Turkey, with terrorist attacks and waves of refugees.
Turkey, a NATO member, has often been at odds with its Western allies over its approach to the region. The United States and others believe that Turkey’s early policy on Syria enabled the growth of the Islamic State, and they have long felt that Turkey was a reluctant partner in fighting the terrorist group.