International community condemns ‘despicable’ Istanbul attack
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International community condemns ‘despicable’ Istanbul attack

Turkey believes Islamic State responsible for killing 36, wounding 140 in triple suicide bombing and gun assault on airport

Turkish forensic police officers work at the scene of a blast outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport, late Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (AP/Emrah Gurel)
Turkish forensic police officers work at the scene of a blast outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport, late Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (AP/Emrah Gurel)

The international community hastened to condemn Tuesday evening’s triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport that killed 36 and wounded more than 140.

Though there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the carnage, Turkey’s prime minister said initial signs pointed to an assault by the Islamic State jihadist group.

France’s foreign minister condemned the attack on Istanbul’s airport as “odious and cowardly.”

Offering condolences, Jean-Marc Ayrault assured that France “is at Turkey’s side in the fight against terrorism.”

As usual in such circumstances, France opened a crisis cell to maintain close contact with Turkish authorities.

European leaders Union leaders holding a summit about Britain’s departure from the bloc Tuesday evening denounced the “despicable” attack on one of Europe’s largest airports.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel tweeted from a closed-door meeting in Brussels, “Despicable terror attack. Stand together with people of Turkey,” while European Union Foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini tweeted that “the EU stands by the Turkish people. Our heart is with them.”

On the sidelines of an ecumenical iftar dinner in Berlin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier responded to news of the attack, saying “everything suggests that terrorists have once again hit the Turkish metropolis.

“We grieve for the victims and with the relatives. We stand by Turkey.”

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a statement on Wednesday condemned the “terror attack,” saying he “stands firmly by Turkey as it confronts this threat and stresses the need to intensify regional and international efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism.”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg strongly condemned the “horrific attacks” at the airport, and said Turkey’s 27 allies in the political and military organization stand with it.

“My thoughts are with the families of the victims, those injured and the people of Turkey. There can be no justification for terrorism,” Stoltenberg said. “NATO Allies stand in solidarity with Turkey, united in our determination to fight terrorism in all its forms.”

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told journalists three assailants arrived at the airport terminal by taxi and opened fire on passengers before blowing themselves up.

At least one attacker is believed to have entered the international terminal, opened fire with an assault rifle and detonated his vest. Another suicide bomber is said to have exploded in the parking lot outside the terminal, with a third being seen shot by a police officer or security official right outside the area before detonating.

Yildirim said all initial indications suggested the Islamic State group was behind the attacks. “The findings of our security forces point at the Daesh organization as the perpetrators of this terror attack,” Yildirim said, using the Arabic acronym for the IS group. “Even though the indications suggest Daesh, our investigations are continuing.”

He suggested that the attack was linked to what he said was Turkey’s success against Kurdish rebels, as well as steps Ankara took Monday toward mending strained ties with Israel and Russia.

“It is meaningful that this heinous attack came at a time when we have become successful in the fight against separatist terrorism … and at a time when we started a process of normalizing ties with our neighbors,” Yildirim said.

In aftermath of the attack, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to continue fighting terrorism, and called on the international community to take a firm stand against jihadist groups.

“Turkey has the power, determination and capacity to continue the fight against terrorism until the end,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan said the attack, which took place during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, “shows that terrorism strikes with no regard to faith and values.”

A Turkish riot police officer patrols Ataturk airport`s main entrance in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016, after two explosions followed by gunfire hit Turkey's largest airport. (AFP/ OZAN KOSE)
A Turkish riot police officer patrols Ataturk airport`s main entrance in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016, after two explosions followed by gunfire hit Turkey’s largest airport. (AFP/ OZAN KOSE)

Condemnations of the attack continued to pour in from across the world Wednesday morning, including from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and a senior Israeli diplomatic official.

“Abbas offers his personal condolences as well as the condolences of the Palestinian people and leadership, and wishes the wounded a speedy recovery,” he was quoted as saying in the PA’s official news website Wafa on Wednesday.

Israel’s deputy consul-general in Istanbul, Shira Ben Tzion, tweeted “Our thoughts and [prayers] are with those effected by the #Istanbulattack.”

In the US, rival presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump issued separate statements on the assault.

“We must deepen our cooperation with allies and partners in the Middle East and Europe to take on this threat,” Clinton said in a statement, adding that the attack strengthens our resolve to defeat the forces of terrorism and radical jihadism around the world.”

Trump said the attack demonstrated that the “terrorist threat has never been greater.”

“The whole world is stunned and horrified. The terrorist threat has never been greater. Our enemies are brutal and ruthless and will do anything to murder those who do not bend to their will,” he said in a statement.

The Obama administration also issued a response to the “heinous” attack, pledging “steadfast” support for Turkey.

“Ataturk International Airport, like Brussels Airport which was attacked earlier this year, is a symbol of international connections and the ties that bind us together,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.

Passengers embrace outside Ataturk airport`s main entrance in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016, after a suicide attack left at least 36 people dead. (AFP/ OZAN KOSE)
Passengers embrace outside Ataturk airport`s main entrance in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016, after a suicide attack left at least 36 people dead. (AFP/ OZAN KOSE)

“We remain steadfast in our support for Turkey, our NATO ally and partner, along with all of our friends and allies around the world, as we continue to confront the threat of terrorism.”

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the attack was “only the latest in a series of attacks aimed at killing and maiming innocent civilians.”

“Such attacks will only reinforce our determination to work with the government of Turkey to counter the scourge of terrorism and support all those across the region who are working to promote peace and reconciliation,” he said in a statement.

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