President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says attack in which 42 died should be turning point in global fight against terrorismTurkey has declared a day of national mourning after more than 40 people were killed in suicide attacks on Istanbul’s main airport, the deadliest and most high-profile in a string of killings and explosions that have shaken the country this year.
The violence has crippled Turkey’s tourism industry and threatens its ambitions as a global hub, as the violence in neighbouring Syria increasingly spills over into a country that once promoted itself as a stable base in a restive region.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blamed Islamic State for the late-night attack on one of the busiest air travel hubs in the world, and called on the international community to make the attack a turning point in the global fight against terrorism.
At least three people with guns and suicide vests targeted the arrivals and departures areas, where they sprayed travellers with bullets and then detonated their explosives in a rampage that lasted just a few minutes but killed dozens and injured more than 250 others. The official death toll rose to 42 on Wednesday night, according to the Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu, which reported that an injured woman had died in hospital.
Police sources quoted in the Turkish media said the attackers had rented a flat in the Aksaray area of Istanbul and taken a taxi at 8.45pm local time to Atatürk airport. The driver described the attackers as calm and not at all stressed
Thursday 30 June 2016 08.39 BST Last modified on Thursday 30 June 2016 11.18 BST
According to Turkish officials, the attackers were initially unable to enter the terminal building. “When the terrorists couldn’t pass the regular security system, when they couldn’t pass the scanners, police and security controls, they returned and took their weapons out of their suitcases and opened fire at random at the security check,” said prime minister Binali Yildirim.
Two Turkish officials told Associated Press that one of the three attackers entered the lower-level arrivals hall, opened fire, and then detonated his explosive.
In the ensuing chaos, the second assailant went up to the departure hall where he blew himself up. The third man waited outside and detonated his explosives as terrified passengers flooded out of the airport, the officials said.
Among the dead identified so far were 23 Turks. Six Saudis, two Iraqis, an Iranian, a Chinese national, a Jordanian, a Tunisian, an Uzbek and a Ukrainian were also killed in the attack, Turkish officials said.
Analysis Turkey paying a price for Erdoğan’s wilful blindness to Isis threat
President’s preference for blaming everything bad that happens on the Kurds is no longer workingFive of the Turkish dead were policemen, and others were tourism guides waiting for clients in the arrivals area, two who worked in ground services, and at least one taxi driver.Although there has been no claim of responsibility, analysts and US counter-terrorism officials – including CIA director John Brennan – also said the choice of target and method of the attack bore hallmarks of Isis, which earlier this year bombed an airport and metro in Brussels, targeted Paris last year, and has been blamed for several attacks on Turkey in the past year.The latest attack drew pledges of support from leaders around the world, with Russia announcing it had eased travel restrictions and trade sanctions, and Israel promising unity in the fight against terrorism.Intelligence officials are now poring over video evidence and witness statements for clues about the suicide cell, which a senior prosecutor said may have included foreign militants.Video footage showed one gunman tumbling to the ground, apparently felled by a police bullet, as passengers and airport workers scattered. Seconds later he detonated an explosive vest.