In what officials say has all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack by Islamic State, there was carnage at Istanbul's Ataturk international airport in the evening of June 28 when three suicide attackers opened fire and blew themselves up, leaving at least 36 dead and nearly 150 injured, according to local reports. The death toll is expected to rise up to 50, one senior Turkish official told the Associated Press.
No group has claimed responsibility for the bombings, but Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the signs pointed to Islamic State being behind the attack.
Turkey has suffered a wave of terrorist attacks over the last year that have been linked to Kurdish separatists or IS. Many have targeted areas frequented by tourists, who are staying away in droves from Turkey due to the attacks, as well as Russia's ban on its tourists visting after Turkey downed a Russian bomber last year near the border with Syria. The attack will renew calls for the government to tighten security arrangements. Ataturk airport was long seen as a vulnerable target, the BBC's Turkey correspondent said, pointing out that there are X-ray scanners at the entrance to the terminal but security checks for cars are limited.
According to Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag’s account of the attack, two militants arrived at the terminal building, spraying gunfire at passengers at the check point. One of the attackers managed to enter the building, going downstairs to the arrivals hall. He exchanged fire with police and was shot. He blew himself up there. The second attacker also blew himself up near the check point. The third blew himself up near the airport’s parking lot, just across the terminal building.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement calling on international solidarity against terrorism. "The bombs that went off in Istanbul today could have gone off in any city in the world, in any airport. I want everyone to understand that, to the terrorists, there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berline, Izmir and Chicago," President Erdogan said in a written statement.