The death toll from the triple suicide bomb and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport has risen to 36 with 147 others wounded.
The attackers began opening fire at the international terminal entrance before blowing themselves up last night.
It is the deadliest of four attacks to rock Turkey’s biggest city this year, with two others blamed on the Islamic State and another claimed by a militant Kurdish group.
Istanbul is still recovering after a night of chaos.
Officials say over 30 people died and almost 150 were injured after three suicide bombers detonated themselves at one of the world’s busiest airports.
The first attacker blew himself up at the entrance of the international terminal, just before the x-ray security checkpoint, while security engaged in a shootout with the second, before he blew himself up.
The third suicide bomber detonated his device in the airport’s car park.
Turkish Airlines cancelled all its overnight and early morning flights while flights from other airlines are facing major delays.
An emergency meeting resulted in Turkey’s government deploying a specialist crisis team to urgently deal with the attack.
Police believe that the Islamic State is responsible for the attack.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the attack and says it was an attack on the country’s 79 million citizens.
The attack will again raise questions on Turkey’s security, stability and its ability to protect its citizens.
THE SCENE DESCRIBED…
One attacker opened fire in the departures hall with an automatic rifle, sending passengers diving for cover and trying to flee, before all three blew themselves up in or around the arrivals hall a floor below, witnesses and officials said.
The attack on Europe’s third-busiest airport is one of the deadliest in a series of suicide bombings in Turkey, which is struggling to contain the spill over from neighbouring Syria’s civil war and battling an insurgency by Kurdish militants in its southeast.
Police fired shots to try to stop two of the attackers just before they reached a security checkpoint at the arrivals hall, but they detonated their explosives, a Turkish official said.
“It became clear with this incident again that terrorism is a global threat. This attack, targeting innocent people is a vile, planned terrorist act,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters at the airport.
“There is initial evidence that each of the three suicide bombers blew themselves up after opening fire,” he said, adding that they had come to the airport by taxi and that preliminary findings pointed to Islamic State responsibility.
The vast majority of those killed were Turkish nationals but foreigners were also among the dead, the official said.
“There was a huge explosion, extremely loud. The roof came down. Inside the airport it is terrible, you can’t recognize it, the damage is big,” said Ali Tekin, who was at the arrivals hall waiting for a guest when the attack took place.
A woman named Duygu, who was at passport control having just arrived from Germany, said she threw herself onto the floor with the sound of the explosion. Several witnesses also reported hearing gunfire shortly before the attacks.
“Everyone started running away. Everywhere was covered with blood and body parts. I saw bullet holes on the doors,” she said outside the airport.
Almost seven hours after the attack, which started around 9:50 p.m., no group had claimed responsibility.
The attack bore similarities to a suicide bombing by Islamic State militants at Brussels airport in March which killed 16 people. A coordinated attack also targeted a rush-hour metro train, killing a further 16 people in the Belgian capital.
Additional reporting by Reuters.
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