World

Turkey mourns after airport attack

Relatives of Siddik Turgan, a customs officer at Ataturk airport, attend his funeral
Relatives of Siddik Turgan, a customs officer at Ataturk airport, attend his funeral

Turkey is observing a national day of mourning after a gun and suicide bomb attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport killed 42 people, including 13 foreign nationals.

Three attackers arrived in a taxi and began firing at the terminal entrance late on Tuesday. They blew themselves up after police fired back.

Officials earlier said 239 people were injured, with 41 in intensive care.

PM Binali Yildirim said early signs pointed to so-called Islamic State.

However, no-one has so far admitted carrying out the attack.

Turkish investigators are examining CCTV footage, witness statements and mobile phone video recorded by terrified passengers to try to determine the identity of the attackers.

The Dogan news agency said autopsies on the three dead men suggested they may be foreign nationals but this has not been confirmed.

Mr Yildirim said one of the attackers blew himself up outside the terminal after the group opened fire at a security check, allowing the other two to enter the building and detonate explosives there.

Footage on social media shows one moving through the building as people around him flee. He is shot by police and remains on the ground for about 20 seconds before blowing himself up.

Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag says that 128 people remain in hospital, including nationals of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Switzerland, the Associated Press reports.

Turkish media said 42 people were killed, with a cafe worker dying late on Wednesday. Thirteen of those who died were foreign or dual nationals.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said there were no reports yet of any British casualties, but the Foreign Office was in contact with Turkish authorities.

Cleaners worked through the morning to sweep up shattered glass, while workers repaired cables and ceiling tiles. Heavily-armed security personnel were patrolling the airport.

Flights had resumed in the early morning, though with many cancellations and delays.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared Wednesday a national day of mourning and said the attack should serve as a turning point in the global fight against militant groups.

Paul Roos, who was due to fly home to South Africa, told Reuters he saw one of the attackers.

“He was wearing all black. His face was not masked. We ducked behind a counter but I stood up and watched him. Two explosions went off shortly after one another. By that time he had stopped shooting.

“He turned around and started coming towards us. He was holding his gun inside his jacket. He looked around anxiously to see if anyone was going to stop him and then went down the escalator. We heard some more gunfire and then another explosion, and then it was over.”

The US called the attack “heinous”, with President Barack Obama saying “we will not rest until we have dismantled these networks of hate that have had an impact on the entire civilised world”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to Turkey in a phone call with Mr Erdogan, as the pair seek to rebuild ties.

The assault on Ataturk airport – Europe’s third busiest – is the sixth major attack this year targeting either Istanbul or Turkey’s capital, Ankara.

The country’s economy has been badly hit as a result of falling tourism.

Source: BBC

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