Three suicide bombers attacked Turkey’s busy Atatürk Airport in Istanbul Tuesday evening, killing at least 41 people and wounding 147, according to Turkish officials. While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said initial findings suggest the men were affiliated with the Islamic State. “Our first assessments of the attacks make it look like this was an ISIS attack,” and an anonymous Turkish security official told the Washington Post. “The target and modus operandi are similar to what we’ve seen during the Brussels airport attacks.”
The attack took place in the arrivals area of Atatürk Airport’s international terminal at 9:22 p.m. Officials said two of the men began firing automatic weapons at a security checkpoint outside the airport, then blew themselves up. A third man detonated his vest in the parking lot. When asked if a fourth attacker might have escaped, Prime Minister Yildirim said authorities do not believe that was the case, but they are considering every possibility. In Turkish airports, travelers are screened at the terminal entrance and before entering departure gates; none of the attackers made it past the first security checkpoint. One of the blasts was recorded on closed-circuit TV inside the airport and posted on social media:
Emergency responders and ambulances rushed to the airport, ferrying the injured to hospitals. Pictures from news agencies and social media documented the bloody scene, with wounded people lying on the ground, and yellow police tape cordoning off the area. Others captured the chaotic, panicked aftermath of the explosions. (Warning: Some of the images are graphic.)
Serap Seydol, a 63-year-old Turkish Cypriot who was on an arriving plane during the attack, told The Wall Street Journal that passengers were kept on the plane for more than an hour. “When we were allowed to pass the passport control after two hours’ wait, we saw the international arrival area almost completely destroyed. Most shops were damaged. It was chaos. People had to leave without suitcases. It was as if there had been an earthquake,” she said. The airport was open again just a few hours after the attack.
Turkey has been shaken recently by suicide bombings from ISIS — including a popular Istanbul tourist spot in January and a busy street in March — and from Kurdish militants, whom Turkey blamed for a February car bomb attack in Ankara that killed 28. This month, a car bomb exploded in Istanbul that claimed 11 lives.
The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addressed the brutal terror attack, saying in a statement, “Terrorists have struck again in the heart of one of our NATO allies — and all Americans stand united with the people of Turkey against this campaign of hatred and violence.”
Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump also had some thoughts on Twitter:
This post has been updated throughout.