At least 36 people were killed and 147 others were injured when suspected Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants attacked Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport late on June 28.
“According to the most recent information, 36 people have lost their lives,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters at the scene of the attack in the early hours of June 29, adding that “the evidence points to Daesh,” using the Arabic acronym for ISIL.
Three suicide bombers opened fire at passengers with automatic rifles before blowing themselves up, Yıldırım said.
The attack was carried out in the arrivals section of the airport’s international terminal, and there might be foreigners among the victims, the prime minister added.
Meanwhile, a gag order has been issued on the attack.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said after the incident that an attacker opened fire using an AK-47 assault rifle at the international terminal before detonating a suicide bomb.
Istanbul Gov. Vasip Şahin said law enforcement believed three militants had blown themselves up at the entrance to the terminal at the airport after police fired at them.
Hüseyin Tombul, who witnessed that attack, told Anadolu Agency that the explosion occurred while he was waiting at the airport’s arrivals Gate A.
He said after the explosion they were sheltered in a garage. “A second explosion happened at Gate B. Four of my friends lost their lives. There are lots of wounded,” he added.
An unconfirmed video shared on social media and reportedly shot during the Istanbul terror attack showed a police officer wounding an unidentified man. The footage then showed the wounded man lying on the ground before blowing himself up just seconds after the officer ran away.
Some flights to Atatürk Airport were diverted after the attack while the airport was shut down for at least five hours.
Flights had resumed by the morning of June 29, although there were still serious delays due to the backlog resulting from the attack.
Meanwhile, security measures have been increased at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen airport, located on the Anatolian side, and the main intercity bus station in Esenler.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan released a statement on the attack, saying he “strongly condemned” it.
“We expect that a resolute stance against terrorist organizations should be adopted by the world and especially Western countries with their parliament, media and non-governmental organizations,” Erdoğan said in a statement, while stressing that Turkey would continue its fight against terrorism.
“Turkey will continue its fight against all terrorist organizations at all costs until the end of terrorism,” he said.
All three opposition parties in the parliament condemned the attack, while also questioning if there was any lack of intelligence.
“This is not an ordinary incident,” Levent Gök, deputy parliamentary group leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said in parliament. “We should think about how such a thing could happen in the most secure airport of the country, how terrorism reached the heart of cities. There are serious lesson to be learned here.”
Erkan Akçay of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said Turkey is “a target” and a “dedicated and united fight is needed against this ultimate attack,” calling on the government to “leave aside the insistence on the presidential system, which is not on the nation’s agenda.”
İdris Baluken, deputy parliamentary group leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), condemned the attack while also criticizing the government.
“When bombs are going off in a place such as Atatürk Airport, we wonder what this country’s government, interior minister, intelligence and police are doing,” he said.