Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Gov't blames IS for attack

Published:Thursday | June 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Family members and friends attend the funeral prayer for Gulsen Bahadir, 28, a Turkish Airlines flight attendant killed on Tuesday in the blasts at Ataturk airport, Istanbul, yesterday.

Gov't blames IS for attack

ISTANBUL (AP):

Suicide attackers armed with guns and bombs killed 41 people and wounded hundreds at Istanbul's busy Ataturk Airport, apparently targeting Turkey's crucial tourism industry. The government blamed the attack on Islamic State (IS) extremists, but there was no immediate confirmation from the group.

Scenes of chaos and panic unfolded Tuesday night as gunfire and explosions on two different floors sent crowds fleeing.

Airport surveillance video posted on social media appeared to show one explosion, a ball of fire that sent terrified passengers racing for safety. Another appeared to show an attacker, felled by a gunshot from a security officer, blowing himself up seconds later.

The victims included at least 13 foreigners and several people remained unidentified yesterday. The Istanbul governor's office said more than 230 people were wounded.

The attackers arrived by taxi, officials said. The state-run Anadolu news agency said one entered the international departures area with an assault rifle, was shot by a police officer, and detonated his explosives.

At the same moment, according to Anadolu, someone standing at the door of the international arrivals area started shouting, sending people inside scurrying in all directions while an armed man entered. Security forces fired on the attacker, and he detonated his explosives before reaching the X-ray control. A third attacker blew himself up outside the arrivals terminal, according to the account.

PRELIMINARY TIMELINE

Funerals for some of the victims began yesterday as Turkish authorities tried to piece together how the attack happened, going through surveillance footage and interviewing witnesses to establish a preliminary timeline.

As dawn broke over the destroyed terminal, workers began removing debris. The airport reopened yesterday morning, in sharp contrast to the 12-day complete shutdown in Brussels after the deadly airport bombing there in March. An information board inside showed about one-third of scheduled flights were cancelled and a host of others were delayed.

By evening, the Islamic State group had not claimed responsibility for the attack, although it did issue an infographic celebrating two years since announcing a caliphate. It claimed to have "covert units" in Turkey, among other places, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said it appeared that the Islamic State group, which has threatened Turkey repeatedly, was responsible.

"Even though the indications suggest Daesh, our investigations are continuing," Yildirim said, using shorthand for the Islamic State group. He also suggested the attack could be linked to steps Ankara took Monday towards mending strained ties with Israel and Russia.