- Three suicide bombers strike Istanbul Ataturk airport
- Around 41 people killed and 239 wounded
- Turkey PM says Islamic State most likely suspects
- Third busiest airport in Europe, high security location
- Iranian and a Ukrainian confirmed as first foreign victims
A triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s main international airport on Tuesday night has left 41 dead and as many as 150 injured in a suspected Isil attack.
The bombers detonated explosive vests in the arrivals hall of Ataturk airport, which is the third busiest in Europe.
They had been trying to pass through X-ray machines when they were stopped by Turkish security officials. When they began shooting with AK-47 rifles, the officers returned fire.
A police officer tried to wrestle one of the gunmen to the ground before he blew himself up in a bombing coordinated with two other suspects.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but Binali Yildirim, Turkey’s prime minister, said it appeared to have been an attack by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants.
“There is initial evidence that each of the three suicide bombers blew themselves up after opening fire,” he told reporters at the airport.
Mr Yildirim said the attackers had come to the airport by taxi and that preliminary findings pointed to Isil responsibility.
Isil had called for attacks during the holy month of Ramadan, and have focused attention on Turkey, which is currently bidding to join the European Union.
As many as 2.5 million Britons travel to Turkey each year, although the number of tourists is thought to have declined in recent months following a spate of Isil attacks in the country.
David Cameron described the terrorist attack as “hideous”. The Prime Minister said the UK would continue to work with the other countries after Brexit on “keeping our countries safe, keeping our people safe – and it’s particularly important to say that tonight again when there has been another hideous terrorist attack in Turkey”.
Footage from the airport showed terrified children and parents crouched among debris on the floor as screams were heard in the background.
A German tourist, who was at passport control entering Turkey, said she threw herself onto the floor with the sound of the explosion.
“Everyone started running away. Everywhere was covered with blood and body parts. I saw bullet holes on the doors,” she said outside the airport.
Gunfire was also reported by witnesses coming from the airport’s car park.
Turkey has suffered a spate of bombings this year, including two suicide attacks in tourist areas of Istanbul blamed on Isil, and two car bombings in the capital, Ankara, which were claimed by a Kurdish militant group.
A Turkish official reports that the foreigners killed in the Istanbul attacks include:
• One Chinese national
• One Jordanian
• One Tunisian
• One Uzbek
• One Iranian
• One Ukrainian
“There were so many bodies”
As passengers arrived at Ataturk airport this morning, workers had rinsed the blood from the pavement and were busy repairing the arrivals area, writes Zia Weise.
Yellow police tape surrounded the three areas where suicide bombers detonated their explosives on Tuesday, killing at least 36 people.
Twisted metal pipes and charred tiles hung from the ceiling outside the taxi stand, where the first explosion took place. Travelers took pictures of shattered glass walls and bullet holes.
Arriving passengers filed past a destroyed visitor waiting area, which the third attacker managed to reach after the second bomb exploded outside, blowing out the windows and clearing the way past the airport’s security checkpoints.