Gun and three suicide attacks on Tuesday at Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport in Turkey have killed at least 28 people and injured up to 60. The Istanbul governor gave the new toll after initial reports of 10 fatalities.
Up to three attackers were involved, when they reportedly opened fire with Kalashnikovs as they targeted an entry point to the terminal and blew themselves up.
Recent bombings in Turkey have been linked to either Kurdish separatists or the so-called Islamic State group.
According to the BBC, yesterday’s airport attack looked like a major, coordinated assault.
Ataturk airport was long seen as a vulnerable target, the BBC reported. There are X-ray scanners at the entry to the terminal but security checks for cars are limited.
Flights in and out of the airport were suspended after the attack.
Taxis were used to rush casualties to hospitals in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
The state-run Anadolu agency said around 60 people had been wounded, six of them seriously.
Police sources were cited as saying initial indications suggest Islamic State was behind the attack, according to reports.
Turkey’s Dogan News Agency claimed authorities believed ISIS terrorists were responsible for blowing themselves up inside the terminal.
A police officer reportedly tackled one of the attackers to the ground before they set off their explosives.
Reports from Turkey suggested two attackers blew themselves up at the entrance to the international terminal before entering the x-ray security check.
An NBC News reporter tweeted that one of them grappled with an officer before detonating his explosives, citing someone who had been at the scene.
He said: “We spoke to a witness – someone who we know works at the airport and he was with a passenger, he’s a porter – and he heard the first explosion.
“He said it happened outside the international departure and arrival hall. He heard that first explosion and saw people running.
“He was running with them then he looked over and saw a police officer diving to tackle a second bomber, then that second bomber blew himself up. Witnesses believe a police officer was killed.
“Then much more panic, more running, then a short time after that a third explosion. All of them outside and this is an incredibly busy airport.”
Police reportedly fired shots at the so-called terrorists before they carried out their attack.
Last December, a blast on the tarmac at a different Istanbul airport, Sabiha Gokcen, killed a cleaner. That attack was claimed by a Kurdish group, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK).
Security concerns and a Russian boycott have hit the country’s tourist sector this year.
On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologised for the downing of a Russian military jet on the Turkey-Syria border last year, the act which sparked the boycott.
Last year, Ataturk overtook Frankfurt airport to enter the top three busiest airports in Europe after London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
More than 61 million passengers used the airport in 2015.
A US State Department travel warning for Turkey, originally published in March and updated on Monday, urged US citizens to “exercise heightened vigilance and caution when visiting public access areas, especially those heavily frequented by tourists”.
Istanbul is a very popular route for Nigerians travelling to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Its airline, Turkish Airline, operates daily flights to Istanbul from Lagos and Abuja.