First foreign victims confirmed in Istanbul blasts

Ambulance cars arrive at Turkey’s largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, Turkey, following a blast June 28, 2016. (Reuters)

An Iranian and a Ukrainian have been confirmed as the first foreign victims in the Istanbul airport suicide attack, a Turkish official said Wednesday.

“I confirm one Iranian and one Ukrainian national have been killed in yesterday’s terror attack,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

At least 41 people died and 239 were injured in Tuesday night’s triple suicide bombing at Ataturk airport, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said early Wednesday.

Iran’s Tasnim news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi as saying five Iranian nationals had been injured in addition to the person killed.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javed Zarif tweeted on Tuesday night: “Terror rears its ugly head yet again in our friend & neighbor’s airport.

“Extremist violence is a global threat; we must confront it together.”

The Ukrainian foreign ministry said a female Ukranian was killed and another national injured.

Yildirim had earlier said that early signs suggested ISIS was behind the suicide bombings at Istanbul airport.

“According to the most recent information, 36 people have lost their lives,” Yildirim told journalists at the scene of the attack, adding that “the evidence points to Daesh”, using another name for ISIS.

The premier added that there were “many injured”, without giving a figure.

Three suicide bombers opened fire at passengers with automatic rifles before blowing themselves up, Yildirim said.

He did not identify the bombers or give their nationality.

The prime minister added that the attackers had arrived at the airport by taxi. He ruled out any security failings at Ataturk, one of Europe's busiest air hubs.

Air traffic will resume at the airport from 3:00 am local time (0000 GMT), Yildirim said.

Earlier, Turkish officials and witnesses said two suicide bombers opened fire before blowing themselves up at the entrance of the airport.

The suspects detonated their explosives just before the X-ray security check at the international terminal, a Turkish official said. Police fired shots to try to “neutralize” the suspects, the official added.

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CNN-Turk cited witnesses as saying two violent blasts shook the terminal, sparking panic among passengers.

“It was very strong, everyone panicked and started running in all directions,” one witness told CNN-Turk.

Police set up a perimeter around the site, television images showed. The airport is Turkey’s biggest and Europe’s third-busiest.

After the attack, scheduled flights were not allowed to take off from Ataturk airport, and passengers were transferred to hotels, a Turkish airlines official said. However, the official said planes in the air will be allowed to land at the airport.

Meanwhile, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Tuesday she is awaiting a briefing on the blast at the airport in Istanbul, Turkey. “I’m awaiting a briefing on that matter right now ... certainly we will be looking into it,” Lynch told reporters at a press conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Turkey has been hit by a string of deadly attacks in the past year, blamed on both Kurdish rebels and ISIS militant group.
 

(With agencies)

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:58 - GMT 10:58
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