30 Jun 2016

Airport attack: Turkey mourns as death toll rises

6:52 am on 30 June 2016

Turkey is observing a national day of mourning after a gun and suicide bomb attack on Istanbul's Ataturk airport killed 41 people, including 13 foreign nationals.

The daughter of a man who was killed in the airport attack reacts as her father's coffin is carried nearby during his funeral ceremony.

The daughter of a man who was killed in the airport attack reacts as her father's coffin is carried nearby during his funeral ceremony. Photo: AFP

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 say 239 people were injured, with 41 still intensive care.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said early signs pointed to 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.

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.

The Istanbul city governor said 41 people were killed, including 13 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.

A Turkish anti-riot police officer (L) stands guard as people walk past near the explosion site at Ataturk airport International arrival terminal in Istanbul.

A Turkish anti-riot police officer (L) stands guard as people walk past near the explosion site at Ataturk airport International arrival terminal in Istanbul. Photo: AFP

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.

Reports of the attack vary but it appears the attackers opened fire at the entrance where X-ray machines are positioned, sparking an exchange with police. At least two of the attackers ran into the building.

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. All three attackers were killed.

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", saying America remained "steadfast in our support for Turkey".

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

French President Francois Hollande has confirmed two French nationals were injured in the attack, but not seriously.

The attack 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.

Pope Francis denounced the "brutal terrorist attack" and the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation also condemned the "despicable terrorist act".

- BBC

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