Turkish PM says terrorists arrived by taxi, rules out security failings at airport
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Turkish PM says terrorists arrived by taxi, rules out security failings at airport

Binali Yildirim indicates first signs of suicide attacks that killed at least 36 in Istanbul point to Islamic State; over 140 wounded

  • 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)
  • A Turkish police officer reacts at Ataturk airport`s main gate on June 28, 2016 in Istanbul after a suicide attack left at least 36 people dead (AFP/ OZAN KOSE)
    A Turkish police officer reacts at Ataturk airport`s main gate on June 28, 2016 in Istanbul after a suicide attack left at least 36 people dead (AFP/ OZAN KOSE)
  • Forensic police work the site at Ataturk airport on June 28, 2016 in Istanbul after a suicide attack left at least 36 people dead.  (AFP / OZAN KOSE)
    Forensic police work the site at Ataturk airport on June 28, 2016 in Istanbul after a suicide attack left at least 36 people dead. (AFP / OZAN KOSE)
  • This picture obtained from the Ilhas News Agency shows an ambulance and emergency workers intervening next to people lying on the ground (R), after two explosions followed by gunfire hit the Turkey's biggest airport of Ataturk in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016. AFP/ ILHAS NEWS AGENCY)
    This picture obtained from the Ilhas News Agency shows an ambulance and emergency workers intervening next to people lying on the ground (R), after two explosions followed by gunfire hit the Turkey's biggest airport of Ataturk in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016. AFP/ ILHAS NEWS AGENCY)
  • A Turkish police officer sets up a security perimeter outside the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016, after two explosions followed by gunfire hit the Turkey's biggest airport, killing at least 28 people and injured 20. AFP / OZAN KOSE)
    A Turkish police officer sets up a security perimeter outside the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016, after two explosions followed by gunfire hit the Turkey's biggest airport, killing at least 28 people and injured 20. AFP / OZAN KOSE)
  • Turkish police officers stand outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport, late Tuesday, June 28, 2016.(AP/Emrah Gurel)
    Turkish police officers stand outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport, late Tuesday, June 28, 2016.(AP/Emrah Gurel)
  • An entrance of the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul after explosions, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (DHA via AP)
    An entrance of the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul after explosions, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (DHA via AP)
  • Turkish rescue services help a wounded person outside Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (Ismail Coskun, IHA via AP)
    Turkish rescue services help a wounded person outside Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (Ismail Coskun, IHA via AP)
  • This picture obtained from the Ilhas News Agency shows ambulances and police setting up a perimeter, next to people lying on the ground (R), after two explosions followed by gunfire hit the Turkey's biggest airport of Ataturk in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016. (AFP / ILHAS NEWS AGENCY)
    This picture obtained from the Ilhas News Agency shows ambulances and police setting up a perimeter, next to people lying on the ground (R), after two explosions followed by gunfire hit the Turkey's biggest airport of Ataturk in Istanbul, on June 28, 2016. (AFP / ILHAS NEWS AGENCY)
  • Members of a flight crew leave Istanbul's Ataturk airport, early Wednesday, June 29, 2016.  (AP/Emrah Gurel)
    Members of a flight crew leave Istanbul's Ataturk airport, early Wednesday, June 29, 2016. (AP/Emrah Gurel)

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Wednesday that early signs suggested the Islamic State terror group was behind a triple suicide bombing at Istanbul airport, announcing that the death toll in the attack had risen to 36.

“According to the most recent information, 36 people have lost their lives,” Yildirim told journalists at the scene of the attack, adding that “the evidence points to Daesh”, using another name for IS.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said 147 were wounded. Another senior government official told The Associated Press the death toll could climb much higher.

The senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government protocol, at first said close to 50 people had already died, but later said that the figure was expected to rise to close to 50.

The three suicide bombers opened fire at passengers with automatic rifles before blowing themselves up, Yildirim said.

He did not identify the bombers or give their nationality.

The prime minister added that the attackers had arrived at the airport by taxi. He ruled out any security failings at Ataturk, one of Europe’s busiest air hubs.

A Turkish police officer reacts at Ataturk airport`s main gate on June 28, 2016 in Istanbul after two explosions followed by gunfire hit Turkey's biggest airport, killing at least 28 people and injured 20. All flights at Istanbul's Ataturk international airport were suspended on June 28, 2016 after a suicide attack left at least 10 people dead and 20 others wounded, Turkish television stations reported. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE
A Turkish police officer reacts at Ataturk airport`s main gate on June 28, 2016 in Istanbul after two explosions followed by gunfire hit Turkey’s biggest airport, killing at least 28 people and injured 20. All flights at Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport were suspended on June 28, 2016 after a suicide attack left at least 10 people dead and 20 others wounded, Turkish television stations reported. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Asked whether a fourth attacker might have escaped, he said authorities have no such assessment but are considering every possibility.

The victims included some foreigners, he said, adding that many of the wounded have minor injuries but others are more badly hurt.

Another Turkish official said two of the attackers detonated explosives at the entrance of the international arrivals terminal after police fired at them, while the third blew himself up in the parking lot.

The official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government protocol and cited interior ministry information, said none of the attackers managed to get past security checks at the terminal’s entrance.

Turkish airports have security checks at both the entrance of terminal buildings and then later before entry to departure gates.

An entrance of the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul after explosions, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (DHA via AP)
An entrance of the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul after explosions, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (DHA via AP)

Roads around the airport were sealed off for regular traffic after the attack and several ambulances could be seen driving back and forth. Hundreds of passengers were flooding out of the airport and others were sitting on the grass.

Hevin Zini, 12, had just arrived from Duesseldorf, Germany, with her family and was in tears from the shock.

“There was blood on the ground,” she told The Associated Press. “Everything was blown up to bits… if we had arrived two minutes earlier, it could have been us.”

South African Judy Favish, who spent two days in Istanbul as a layover on her way home from Dublin, had just checked in when she heard an explosion followed by gunfire and a loud bang.

She says she hid under the counter for some time.

Favish says passengers were ushered to a cafeteria at the basement level where they were kept for more than an hour before being allowed outside.

Two South African tourists, Paul and Susie Roos from Cape Town, were at the airport and due to fly home at the time of the explosions.

“We came up from the arrivals to the departures, up the escalator when we heard these shots going off,” Paul Roos said. “There was this guy going roaming around, he was dressed in black and he had a hand gun.”

The private DHA news agency said the wounded, among them police officers, were being transferred to Bakirkoy State Hospital.

Turkey has suffered several bombings in recent months linked to Kurdish or Islamic State groups.

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