Istanbul assesses deaths, damages after deadly airport bombing | News | DW | 29.06.2016
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Istanbul assesses deaths, damages after deadly airport bombing

A triple suicide bombing at Istanbul airport has left dozens of people dead from 14 countries, with Turkey placing the blame on so-called "Islamic State" militants. World leaders have condemned the attack.

A statement from the Istanbul governor's office said the death toll had climbed to 41 in the terror attacks at Istanbul's Ataturk international airport, with an additional 239 people wounded. Of the wounded victims, 109 had been released from the hospital.

Most of those killed were Turkish citizens, but 13 were foreign nationals. Five were from Saudi Arabia, two from Iraq, and one each from Tunisia, Uzbekistan, China, Iran, Ukraine and Jordan.

Turkey declared a national day of mourning on Wednesday and ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere were among international leaders on Wednesday to condemn attacks.

Merkel offered her sympathies for the victims and the injured, while de Maiziere said "terrorism has shown its ugly face once again and killed innocent people."

"We'll continue our fight against terrorism with full force along with our allies," de Maiziere added in Berlin.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg struck a similar tone in his statement on Wednesday morning, saying "NATO Allies stand in solidarity with Turkey, united in our determination to fight terrorism in all its forms."

Turkey is a member of NATO.

The White House called the incident at one of Europe's busiest airports on Tuesday a "heinous terrorist attack."

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for an international "joint fight" against terror following the blasts, which took place in and around the arrivals terminal.

Reports say three attackers arrived by taxi and began spraying bullets at the terminal entrance to Ataturk airport before blowing themselves up at around 10pm local time (19:00 UTC). Several foreigners were among those killed and injured, along with police officers.

One of the attackers detonated explosives by a security checkpoint, while another blew himself up outside the terminal and the third in a parking area, Turkish officials said.

Security camera footage widely circulated on social media appeared to capture two of the blasts. In one clip a huge ball of flame erupts at an entrance to the terminal building, while another video shows a black-clad attacker collapsing on the ground before blowing himself up.

A woman named Duygu, who had just arrived from Germany, said she threw herself onto the floor as she heard the explosion.

"Everyone started running away. Everywhere was covered with blood and body parts. I saw bullet holes on the doors," she was quoted by Reuters as saying.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the perpetrators to be identified and brought to justice.

Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the carnage, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yidirim said the evidence pointed to the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group.

CIA warns of more IS attacks

CIA Director John Brennan said on Wednesday that the attack in Istanbul looks very much like it was the work of Islamic State. He said the group is probably also planning to strike again soon in the US in the Middle East.

"The attack [in Istanbul ] bears the hallmarks of the Islamic State's depravity," Brennan told the US Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday.

"If anybody here believes the US homeland is hermetically sealed and that IS would not consider that, I would guard against it," Brennan said.

Brennan told Congress in early June that the battle against IS has not yet dented the group's global reach and that more attacks on the West by lone wolves could be expected. He said IS has a large cadre of Western fighters who could attack the West.

The attacks took place as a plane carrying Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama was landing at the airport. He was arriving on an official visit and was safely taken to an official residence.

The blasts were the deadliest of four attacks to rock Turkey's biggest city this year, with two others blamed on IS and another claimed by a militant Kurdish group.

The airport remained closed for several hours but has since reopened. A message on the website of Turkish Airlines, Turkey's flagship airline, said "flight operations had been restarted" but advised passengers to double check the status of their flights.

mm/jr (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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