At least 36 people killed in twin explosions at Istanbul airport

At least 36 people killed in twin explosions at Istanbul airport

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has issued a call for national unity, as his country faced a rising death toll from a suicide attack that killed at least 36 people at Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport.

Yildirim, flanked by members of his cabinet, said three suicide bombers arrived by taxi Tuesday evening at the busy airport and opened fire with automatic weapons, shooting randomly at bystanders before detonating explosives as police closed in.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the attack wounded 147 people.

VOA’s Dorian Jones in Istanbul said one of the bombers detonated his explosives outside the international arrival terminal.

That area is usually packed with people waiting for transportation. The two other attackers are believed to have tried to enter the terminal, which is protected by heavily armed police and X-ray machines.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But Yildirim said early evidence pointed to an attack by Islamic State extremists, whom he identified by the Arabic pejorative Daesh. He called the attack “cowardly” and vowed his country would continue to press its fight against extremism.

“Unity will be the best answer to terrorists,” he said.

Islamic State is blamed for two suicide bombings earlier this year in Istanbul targeting foreign tourists.  The group has not claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack.

The Kurdish rebel group PKK also has carried out suicide bombings, but it usually targets security forces, as it did this month in an attack on a police bus that killed 11 people.

In the last year, both Ankara and Istanbul have seen scores killed in bombings, blamed both on Islamic State and Kurdish rebels.

The attack triggered a closed session of the Turkish parliament, where opposition leaders were expected to question Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag about details of a recent U.S. travel warning for Turkey.

MPs also were believed to be focusing on whether any security lapses could have contributed to the airport attack.

Ataturk is a major transport hub for international travelers. All flights there were suspended after the attack, but the prime minister said operations had been normalized by early Wednesday.

On Monday, the U.S. State Department had issued a travel advisory for Americans going to Turkey.

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