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At least 36 dead and dozens injured in Istanbul airport attack: Flights suspended

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INTERNATIONAL

(BBC) A gun and bomb attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport has killed 36 people and injured about 90.

 

Three attackers opened fire near an entry point to the terminal and blew themselves up after police fired at them, officials say.

 

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said early signs suggested the so-called Islamic State was behind the attack.

 

Recent bombings in Turkey have been linked to either IS or Kurdish separatists.

 

Tuesday’s attack looks like a major co-ordinated assault, says the BBC’s Mark Lowen.

 

Ataturk airport was long seen as a vulnerable target, our Turkey correspondent adds, reporting from a plane stuck on the tarmac in Istanbul.

 

There are X-ray scanners at the entrance to the terminal but security checks for cars are limited.

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attack should serve as a turning point in the global fight against militant groups.

 

“The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world,” he said.

 

The US called the attack “heinous”, and said saying America remained “steadfast in our support for Turkey”.

 

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “We grieve for the victims. We stand by Turkey”.

 

Speaking several hours after Tuesday’s attack, Mr. Yildirim said at least 36 people were killed and many wounded, some seriously.

 

Flights in and out of the airport were suspended after the attack.

 

The US Federal Aviation Administration grounded all flights between the US and Istanbul.

 

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Terrified passengers were seen leaving the airport on foot Image copyright Reuters Image caption A Kalashnikov assault rifle was later found at the scene of the attack Image copyright Reuters Image caption Ambulances flocked to the airport after the explosion.

 

Taxis were used to rush casualties to hospital after the attack.

 

Eyewitness Paul Roos told the Associated Press news agency that he was due to fly home to South Africa when the attackers struck.

 

“We came up from the arrivals to the departures, up the escalator when we heard these shots going off,” he said.

 

“There was this guy going roaming around, he was dressed in black and he had a handgun.”

 

Charles Michel, the Prime Minister of Belgium whose capital city was targeted by bombers in March, tweeted from the EU summit in Brussels: “Our thoughts are with the victims of the attacks at Istanbul’s airport. We condemn these atrocious acts of violence.”

 

In December, a blast on the tarmac at a different Istanbul airport, Sabiha Gokcen, killed a cleaner. That attack was claimed by a Kurdish group, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK).

 

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