Istanbul airport attack leaves 42 dead; Turkish govt blames ISIS

EMBED </>More Videos

Surveillance video captured images of the Istanbul airport attackers. (WLS)

A day after suicide attackers armed with guns and bombs killed 42 people and wounded hundreds at Istanbul's busy Ataturk Airport, apparently targeting Turkey's crucial tourism industry, the airport has reopened.

However, things are far from normal. The country's state-run news agency said 239 were left wounded -- more than 40 are still in serious condition.

The government blamed the attack on Islamic State extremists but there was no immediate confirmation from the group. Turkey's president said on Wednesday that the three suicide bombers were not Muslims and have prepared their place in hell.

The attacks occurred in three separate locations. First suicide bomber, ground floor near arrivals at Ataturk Airport. The second bomb went off near the entrance to a first-floor international departure area and the third outside the terminal near the parking lot.

"It was a few minutes he was spraying. It was nonstop. Automatic rifles for sure," said one passenger.

Airport security camera stills of the apparent attackers before blowing themselves up were released Wednesday. The three attackers took a cab to the airport at about 10 p.m. Istanbul time, ABC7 has learned. All of the men were wearing bomb vests and armed with automatic weapons.

All three attackers arrived together at the lower-level arrivals hall; one went inside, opened fire and then detonated his explosives, according to an Interior Ministry official and another official.

During the chaos, the second attacker went upstairs to departures and blew himself up.

The third man waited outside during the whole episode and detonated his explosives last as people flooded out of the airport, the officials said.

Separately, a senior Turkish security official said the three attackers were not Turkish nationals.

The cab driver was found and questioned by authorities and then released. Using an innocent taxi driver is the same method used by the terrorists in the Brussels airport attack last march.

Funerals for some of the victims began Wednesday as Turkish authorities tried to piece together how the attack happened, going through surveillance footage and interviewing witnesses to establish a preliminary timeline.

As dawn broke over the destroyed terminal, workers began removing debris. The airport reopened Wednesday morning, in sharp contrast to the 12-day complete shutdown in Brussels after the deadly airport bombing there in March. An information board inside showed about one-third of scheduled flights were canceled and a host of others were delayed.

The U.S. State Department officials said Wednesday that they do not believe Americans are among the dead or seriously wounded in the Istanbul airport attacks. However, none of the deceased have been named by Turkish authorities so their nationalities aren't known. More than a dozen are believed to be from nation's other than Turkey.

The attacks came one day after the State Department issued a warning for U.S. travelers.

"We're not saying Americans should not travel to Turkey....we're simply reminding Americans, as if they need reminding, but certainly, trying to remind them to be up to date on the current information and to bring with them their street smarts, if I can put it that way. And, to be situationally aware when they're on the ground. And to be aware of these threats," said Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman.

Scenes of chaos and panic unfolded Tuesday night as gunfire and explosions sent crowds fleeing in all directions.

Airport surveillance video posted on social media appeared to show one explosion, a ball of fire that sent terrified passengers racing for safety. Another appeared to show an attacker, felled by a gunshot from a security officer, blowing himself up seconds later. A growing stream of travelers, some rolling suitcases behind them, fled down a corridor, looking fearfully over their shoulders.

"Four people fell in front of me. They were torn into pieces," said airport worker Hacer Peksen.

The victims included at least 13 foreigners and several people remained unidentified Wednesday. The toll excluded the three bombers.

The Saudi ambassador to Turkey said six citizens of Saudi Arabia are among those killed.

Tuesday's airport attack wasn't the worst in Turkey during a recent spate of terrorism. Last October, twin suicide bombings outside Ankara's train station left more than 100 dead.

The Istanbul airport suicide bombing was the ninth terrorist attack in turkey since last October.

Counter-terror agencies in the U.S. are concerned as Americans head into an American holiday weekend and the end of Ramadan on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama spoke about the attacks while in Canada. He said he had talked with the Turkish president, offering his support and condolences. He also expressed his commitment to fighting the Islamic state.

However, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was critical of the U.S. response to terror threats.

"We better get smart and we better get tough or we're not gonna have much of a country left," Trump said. "They're going to be defeated in Syria, they're going to be defeated in Iraq. We will not rest until we have dismantled these networks of hate."

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released a statement and tweeted. She did not campaign on Wednesday.

Republican Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk issued a statement saying in part: "At a time when the terrorist threat to American families and our allies is growing, the administration should pause Syrian refugee flows into the United States until it can prevent any and all terrorist infiltration and stop releasing hardened terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related Topics:
u.s. & worldterrorismattackairport newsisisIstanbul attack
(Copyright ©2017 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

Load Comments