The Istanbul Ataturk Airport in Turkey has come under series of suicide bombing Tuesday evening, June 28, killing at least 41 people and leaving 239 people injured in an attack officials blamed on the Islamic State terror group – ISIS.
According to reports from the International and Local news medias, the Turkish officials said 23 Turks, 10 foreigners and three dual nationals were among the dead — five Saudis, two Iraqis, an Iranian, a Chinese, a Jordanian, a Tunisian, an Uzbek and a Ukrainian were killed in the attack, and five of the dead were police officers, as reported by the Turkish national broadcaster, TRT.
Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport is the third-busiest airport in the world, the main entry point for the majority of the more than 30 million people who visit Turkey every year — including Nigerians who deals in Turkey fashion clothes. It’s also the hub of Turkish Airlines, the country’s only known international brand and the gateway to doing business in Istanbul.
A witness, who saw one of the attackers, described the horrifying moment when gunmen started shooting as he (the gunman) walked through the airport terminal.
“He was just firing at anyone coming in front of him. He was wearing all black. His face was not masked. I was 50 metres away from him,” said Paul Roos, 77, a South African tourist on his way back to Cape Town with his wife.
“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.”
CNNTurk interviewed a taxi driver, Fatih who said,
“There were the sound of gunfire, it was like thunder, then there was a fireball everywhere. My front window blew out, the car in front of me turned into scrap.”
Meanwhile, a security camera footage circulating on social media showed the moment one of the attackers was shot by a security guard. The footage, which could not be verified, showed the assailant dropping what appeared to be an assault rifle before collapsing to the floor. Seconds later he appeared to activate a suicide bomb.
Although no terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, or past attacks in Turkey, all fingers points to ISIS whose targets often aims at tourists – which, on the long run, will hurt Turkey’s tourism economy and the business community by seriously challenging the idea that Turkey is a safe place to visit and do business.
Sitting in front of a tourism agency office, Abdulbakir Demir, 42, said that prospects were grim:
“With Eid coming up, business had just started to pick up again as well. But now we are finished.”
Motioning at the hotels and shops selling knickknacks in the streets around his agency, he added:
“All of these will have to close down. This morning, our Eid reservations went down to 30%. People keep calling to cancel their holidays because of the explosion at the airport last night.”
This newest bombing is reportedly the third attack on Turkey’s biggest city this year. In just over one year, almost 300 people have died in 17 bomb attacks and suicide bombings all over Turkey, and more than 1,000 have been injured.