Three attackers with suicide vests detonated their explosives at the entrance of Istanbul Ataturk Airport, killing at least 36 people and wounding 147, Turkish officials said Tuesday night. All three bombers were killed. Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, blamed the Islamic State group for the assault, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The attack began shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, Turkish officials said, when two gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons at a security checkpoint outside Istanbul Ataturk airport, one of Europe’s busiest. They then detonated their explosives, setting off two fireballs. A third attacker set off explosives in the parking lot. Footage broadcast by Turkish media showed at least one blast inside the terminal, while other images showed panicked travelers fleeing and debris strewn across the terminal and parking garage. There was “no security lapse at the airport,” Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said after the attack. He said the attackers arrived at the airport in a taxi, and that police officers and foreign nationals were among the dead.
“People were shooting from one side and we all ran the other way and then the bombs went off and people started running the other way and there was more shooting and we came out,” said Adam Keally, an American from Boston. "I saw people very badly injured", he added. Security footage captures one of the suicide bombers collapsing to the ground after being shot in the airport. He is seen squirming for several seconds before he sets off the bomb.
Istanbul Ataturk airport is the third busiest in Europe. It is the largest airport in Turkey and the third busiest in the continent. In 2015, the airport had more than 41 million travelers pass through, according to the airport's website. The largest carrier at the airport is Turkish Airlines, which operates a major hub there. Low-cost Turkish carrier Onur Air is the second-largest airline there.