International desk – Terrorist attacks on Turkey’s main airport in Istanbul have left at least 36 people killed and 60 others wounded, media reports said on Wednesday.
Three attackers first fired their guns indiscriminately at an entry point of Ataturk International Airport on Wednesday night causing the fatalities. The attackers then blew them up after police retaliated with guns, international news agencies reported quoting officials.
Recent bombings in Turkey have been linked to either Kurdish separatists or the so-called Islamic State (IS) group.
This looks like a major co-ordinated assault, according to BBC report adding that Ataturk airport was long seen as a vulnerable target by the terrorists.
There are X-ray scanners at the entry to the terminal but security checks for cars are limited.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack, calling for a “joint fight” against terrorism.
The US condemned the “heinous” attack, saying America remained “steadfast in our support for Turkey”.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “We grieve for the victims… We stand by Turkey”.
Flights in and out of the airport were suspended after the attacks.
Two South African tourists, Paul and Susie Roos from Cape Town, were at the airport and due to fly home at the time of the explosions.
Charles Michel, the Prime Minister of Belgium whose capital city was targeted by bombers in March, tweeted from the EU summit in Brussels: “Our thoughts are with the victims of the attacks at Istanbul’s airport. We condemn these atrocious acts of violence.”
In 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 over last year’s downing of a Russian military jet on the Turkey-Syria border have hit the Turkish tourist sector this year.
More than 61 million passengers travelled through Ataturk airport in 2015.
A US state department travel warning for Turkey, originally published in March and updated on Monday, urges US citizens to “exercise heightened vigilance and caution when visiting public access areas, especially those heavily frequented by tourists.”