Turkey confirms nationalities of attackers of Istanbul’s airport


By DN 24 and agencies

Turkey has declared a day of national mourning after three suicide bombers attacked Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, killing at least 41 people and wounding 239.

The three suicide bombers were from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, a Turkish government official has said.

The official gave no further details beyond confirming the attackers’ nationalities and declined to be named because details of the investigation have not yet been released.

The attackers arrived at Ataturk, Europe’s third-busiest airport, late on Tuesday evening where they opened fire before blowing themselves up.

The Turkish government ordered flags to be flown at half-mast on Wednesday, as investigators pored over video footage and witness statements.

“The findings of our security forces point at the Daesh organisation as the perpetrators of this terror attack,” said Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, using the Arabic acronym for the so-called Islamic State (IS) group.

Most of the dead were Turkish citizens, officials said.  An Iranian and a Ukrainian were confirmed as the first foreign victims. Iran’s Tasnim news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi as saying five Iranian nationals had been wounded in addition to the person killed.

Turkish officials said that 23 of the dead were Turkish, and 13 were foreign, including citizens from Tunisia, Jordan Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack and Yildirim said efforts to identify the attackers, who arrived to the airport in two taxis, were continuing.

This is the latest attack in a string of attacks that have struck the Turkish city in recent months.

Flights resume

Ataturk is Turkey’s largest airport and a major transport hub for travellers from around the world. Pictures posted on social media from the site showed wounded people lying on the ground inside and outside the international terminal.

A helicopter buzzed overhead as police evacuated the building. Dozens of passengers walked back down access roads with their luggage, trying to hail cabs. The US embassy urged US citizens to avoid the area.

Authorities halted the takeoff of scheduled flights from the airport and passengers were transferred to hotels, a Turkish Airlines official said. Earlier an airport official said some flights to the airport had been diverted, although Yildirim said air traffic had later resumed.

World leaders condemn attack

Politicians around the world have expressed shock and condemnation after the attack.

“The attack, which took place during the holy month of Ramadan, shows that terrorism strikes with no regard for faith and values,” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson released a statement saying, “The secretary-general hopes that the perpetrators of this crime will be identified and brought to justice.

He (Ban) stands firmly by Turkey as it confronts this threat and stresses the need to intensify regional and international efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism.”

Meanwhile, the White House on Tuesday also condemned the attack “in the strongest possible terms”.

“Ataturk International Airport, like Brussels airport which was attacked earlier this year, is a symbol of international connections and the ties that bind us together,” said the White House in a statement, adding that the US remains steadfast in supporting Turkey and other allies around the world.

In a statement posted on his Facebook account, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said he was shocked by the news of the attack and sent his condolences to the people of Turkey.

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull conveyed his sympathies and condolences to “the people of Turkey, the families of those who have been killed and injured.”

Also condemning the attack was Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday, who expressed solidarity with the people and Turkish government.

Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama said on his twitter account that he felt “deep regret at the lose of innocent lives in this barbaric act.”

Japan joined the chorus of condolences saying in a statement that it expressed “strong solidarity with the Turkish government and the Turkish people.”

The Army of Islam, one of the most active opposition groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, also released a statement condemning the attack.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was shocked by the news.

“We grieve for the victims and with the relatives. We stand by Turkey.”


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