30 charged over Istanbul airport attack
Turkish officials charged 13 people including three foreigners on Sunday over the recent Istanbul airport bombing. They charged an additional 17 people including 11 foreigners on 5 July bringing the total number of arrests to 30. Authorities have not disclosed the nationalities or identities of the foreigners involved, but said the organizer of the attack was a Chechen national named Akhmed Chatayev.
Atatürk Airport, named after Turkey's first President-Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, is the primary international airport that serves Istanbul, Turkey. In 2016, the Airports Council International (ACI World) declared the airport as the 11th busiest airport in the world and the third busiest in Europe for 2015. In Mar'16, the airport was also presented with the 'Most Improved Airport in Europe' award.
In a suspected Islamic State attack, Istanbul's Atatürk Airport has been targeted by three suicide bombers. The attack claimed the lives of at least 38 and injured over 147, some of whom were critical; five police officers were also killed. Two attackers blew themselves up at the international arrivals' entrance, as police opened fire at them; the third detonated explosives in the parking area.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said: "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."
According to officials, the suicide attackers, who arrived by taxi, opened fired at passengers before detonating explosives, but none of them managed to get past the security at the terminal entrance. Turkish PM Binali Yildirim stated that there had been no security lapses at the airport. Yildirim said that initial findings suggest the Islamic State perpetrated the attack, while the investigations are still on.
The airport authorities stated that arrival and departure operations at the airport after the deadly terror strike have resumed. Government officials, however, stated that the death toll might rise much higher; an official said that the toll is expected to reach 50. Reportedly, an airplane carrying Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama was landing at the airport during the time of the attack.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan condemned the terror attack during Ramzan, and stated that it shows "terrorism strikes with no regard to faith and values." Condemning the attack, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the perpetrators to be identified soon and brought to justice. Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the attack while the White House has issued a statement condemning the "heinous terrorist attack."
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated, "My thoughts are with the families of victims, those injured and the people of Turkey. There can be no justification for terrorism. NATO allies stand in solidarity with Turkey, united in our determination to fight terrorism in all its forms."
Apart from the suicide attack on Istanbul's airport, there have been several suicide bombings that took place in Turkey. On 12 Jan'16, a suspected IS suicide attack claimed the lives of ten in Istanbul. On 13 Mar'16, 38 were killed in an attack claimed by Kurdish Freedom Falcons in Ankara. On 19 Mar'16, five died in an IS-linked suicide bombing that rocked Istanbul.
The death toll from the Istanbul airport attack has risen to 41 and Turkish officials suspect the attacks to have been carried out by ISIS. Interior Minister Efkan Ala said that "initial clues pointed to Daesh (ISIS)" but "investigations were still underway." The assault came at the start of Turkey's tourist season and could impact Turkish tourism revenues this year.
Turkish anti-terror investigators identified the three attackers of the Istanbul Airport as Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals. Authorities detained 11 individuals in Istanbul and several others in Izmir over the attacks. Authorities say the nationalities of those involved in the attack has further strengthened their suspicion that ISIS was behind the attack. ISIS recruits heavily from the Muslim dominated regions of the former USSR.