Three men opened fire before exploding themselves in Istanbul’s Ataturk airport Tuesday, leading to the death of 36 people and 150 injured in an attack believed to be carried out by Islamic State (IS) members, according to the Turkish prime minister Binali Yildrim.
One attacker opened fire on passengers in the departure hall before all three attackers detonated themselves in the hall.
The attack is the worst among the three attacks to hit Turkey in the past year.
According to Yildrim, the attacker arrived to the airport in a taxi, adding that “there is no security gap at the airport”.
“Many people are injured. Many of the injuries sustained were light,” he said. “Some foreign nationals were also injured,” he added.
Yildrim believes that the time of the attack was very “meaningful” as the country begins new foreign relations, referring to the new rapprochement with Israel and Russia.
The attacker used an AK-47 rifle to shoot the passengers, according to the Turkish minister of justice Bekir Bozdag .
The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the attack must be a turning point in the fight against terrorism.
“The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could explode in any other airport,” Erdoğan said.
Ataturk airport is a huge hub for international flights. Turkish Airlines suspended its flights until 8am.
EgyptAir announced Tuesday that it cancelled two flights that were supposed to head to Istanbul Wednesday due to the attacks. It said on Wednesday that it will fly one flight to Istanbul after the airport re-opens.
Turkey witnessed two other attacks in the past year on historic sites in Istanbul and on police vehicles in Ankara. The government accused IS and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for being responsible for them respectively.
Turkey is part of the US-led coalition fighting IS in Syria, and is also in conflict with the PKK fighters.