Updates To The Istanbul Airport Attack Indicate That Explosions Killed Multiple People
At least two explosions and gunfire rocked Istanbul's Atatürk Airport on Tuesday. Initial reports indicated that at least 10 people were killed and multiple others were injured, according to Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ. Istanbul Atatürk is Turkey's largest airport, and CNN Turk has reported that the airport is on lockdown, with taxis outside to transport the wounded. CNN Turk also said Turkish officials suspected that two suicide bombers were responsible for the attack, which Bozdağ confirmed in an interview. Update: The Associated Press initially reported that the Istanbul governor said 28 people were killed in the attacks and 60 were wounded. Six of the wounded are in critical condition, and 49 ambulances were sent to the site of the attacks. However, a few hours later, Turkish officials said the death toll had risen to at least 31. Istanbul Gov. Vasip Şahin has also said that there were at least three bombers, and that three bombs exploded.
Bozdağ told CNN that the suicide bombers were killed, with one of them opening fire at the airport entrance with a Kalashnikov before detonating himself. Before detonating their explosives, the attackers reportedly attempted to proceed further into the airport, but security personnel reportedly opened fire to "neutralize" them near the international terminal. CNN initially reported that a total of two bombs exploded, one on the pavement just outside the terminal and the other at the security gate at the airport's entrance. Bozdağ said that no bombs exploded within the airport itself.
Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency has confirmed that the attack killed 10 people, and added that 20 people were wounded. Turkey's state broadcaster TRT World reported that dozens of police, medics, and firefighters have been dispatched to the airport to help the wounded on site, and that all entry and exit points of the airport have been sealed.
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the airport attack thus far, but Turkey has recently been the target of multiple attacks — both by the Islamic State and by Kurdish separatist groups. Turkey is part of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, and last year it also resumed hostilities with the PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers' Party. There were two suicide attacks in Istanbul earlier this year that were blamed on ISIS, as well as two car bombings in the Turkish capital of Ankara that were attributed to a Kurdish militant group. Back in December, an explosion at a different Istanbul airport, Sabiha Gökçen, killed a cleaner and wounded her colleague.
Atatürk Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, with more than 61 million passengers passing through the airport in 2015, and it serves as an important international hub. The U.S. State Department has updated an existing travel warning to Turkey, urging U.S. citizens in the country to "exercise heightened vigilance and caution when visiting public access areas, especially those heavily frequented by tourists."