Two suicide bombers opened fire before blowing themselves up at the entrance to the main international airport in Istanbul on Tuesday, killing at least 10 people and wounding many more, Turkish officials and witnesses said.
Police fired shots to try to stop the attackers just before they reached a security checkpoint at the arrivals hall of the Ataturk airport but they blew themselves up, one of the officials said.
Speaking in parliament, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that based on initial information he could only confirm that there had been one attacker. He said 10 people were killed and around 20 wounded.
“According to information I have received, at the entrance to the Ataturk Airport international terminal a terrorist first opened fire with a Kalashnikov and then blew themself up,” he said in comments broadcast by CNN Turk.
Ataturk is Turkey’s largest airport and a major transport hub for international travelers. Pictures posted on social media from the site showed wounded people lying on the ground inside and outside one of the terminal buildings.
Television footage showed ambulances rushing to the scene. One witness told CNN Turk that gunfire was heard from the car park at the airport. Taxis were ferrying wounded people from the airport, the witness said.
Authorities halted the takeoff of scheduled flights from the airport and passengers were transferred to hotels, a Turkish Airlines official said. Earlier an airport official said some flights to the airport had been diverted.
Turkey has suffered a spate of bombings this year, including two suicide attacks in tourist areas of Istanbul blamed on Islamic State, and two car bombings in the capital, Ankara, which were claimed by a Kurdish militant group.
In the most recent attack, a car bomb ripped through a police bus in central Istanbul during the morning rush hour, killing 11 people and wounding 36 near the main tourist district, a major university and the mayor’s office.
Turkey, which is part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, is also fighting Kurdish militants in its largely Kurdish southeast.
(Reporting by Istanbul bureau; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Gareth Jones)