There was once a time when Turkey, standing between Europe and Asia and serving as a gateway of sorts to the adjacent Middle East, was a picture of public security and stability of law and order. It had to be in order to maintain its status as a premiere tourist destination for travelers all over the world. Now however the country is coming under increasingly frequent and violent attacks originating from its neighbors to the southeast. The latest such assault took place on Tuesday evening just over a week left before the end of Ramadan – when three heavily armed suicide bombers struck at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, shooting at civilians and airport personnel before detonating their explosive vests.
Turkish officials told The New York Times that the attack occurred sometime around 10 PM of June 28, when three gunmen arrived at the airport by taxi. Two of them went to the arrival hall and started shooting at a security checkpoint and nearby passengers. When airport police fought back in force, the terrorists set their bomb vests to blow. Airport security camera footage caught two separate videos, one where a bomber made his detonation in a bright flash caught on screen, with running bystanders suddenly collapsing as the floor began to fill with blood. A second video showed a wounded bomber on the floor, the security guard who shot him hurriedly running away mere 10 seconds before the man exploded. The third bomber proceeded to the parking lot and detonated his vest there.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said to CNN that the attack resulted in the deaths of at least 36 people, with Justice Minister Bekir Bozadag adding that a further 147 suffered various injuries. A majority of the casualties were Turks, although there were also foreigners. Authorities issued a blanket ban on local media publishing images and footage from the scene of the attack as the dead and wounded were loaded into ambulances. Witnesses who were not harmed in the attack were distraught and emotional as they waited for information on the airport front steps. While US Intelligence sources in touch with the news network opine that the assault had all the identifying hallmarks of being orchestrated or at least inspired by ISIS, no one terrorist group has yet to claim responsibility for the carnage.
Over the past year alone, Turkey has been beset by a continuous string of terror attacks in its territory, including Istanbul to the near extreme west of the country. Usual acknowledged perpetrators of these violent threats are ISIS and armed Kurdish militants rising against Turkey’s southeastern provinces. Travel advisories have long warned against that region while urging caution everywhere else.
In the wake of the attack, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged world leaders to a renewed active international fight against terrorism. Ataturk airport meanwhile has been reopened to flight traffic.
Photo Credit to www.bbc.com