Death Toll Rises After Explosions in Turkey’s Ataturk Airport

Three suicide bombers have targeted Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey’s main international airport late Tuesday evening. The explosions have killed at least 36 people and injured at least 60 according to initial assessments.

Istanbul’s governor, Vasip Sahin initially stated that at least three people were involved in the terror attack and

“According to initial assessments 28 people have lost their lives, some 60 people have been taken to hospitals. Our detailed inspections are continuing in all aspects”.

Recent reports have increased the death toll to at least 36 with at least 147 injured. In a statement to the press Turkish Prime Minister, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed that 36 people had been killed in the terror attack and that security forces have indicated that attack was the work of Daesh (using the Arabic name for Isis).

Various witness reports and security camera footage scenes have emerged from the incident. The Guardian reports that unverified footage shows an assailant dropping what appears to be an assault rifle before collapsing to the floor and moments later activating a suicide bomb.

A witness, Paul Ross, 77, a South African tourist on his way back to Cape Town with his wife, spoke to Reuters about one attacker who “randomly opened fire…He was just firing at anyone coming in front of him. He was wearing all black. His face was not masked. I was 50 metres away from him.”

“We ducked behind a counter but I stood up and watched him. Two explosions went off shortly after one another. By that time he had stopped shooting,” Ross said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on all governments to join forces against terror, and called on especially Western countries to take a “firm stand against terror”.

“The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world. Make no mistake: For terrorist organizations, there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago or Antalya and Rome,” he said in his statement following the attack.

Al Jazeera reports that although there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, a security analyst informed Al Jazeera that the attack “bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State”, which carried out a “similar attack” at the Brussels airport in March.

The aftermath of any terror attack on a major city is leads to uncertainty, citizens are paralysed with fear and their confidence to feel safe in their own home is destroyed. These results combined with the inconsistent approach to dealing with terrorism allows extremist groups to flourish. Reporter for Al Jazeera, Yasin Aktay, points out that the United States–while fiercely condemning ISIL–openly supports the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has ties to the PKK, stating that “ The US insists  that it will continue its support in spite of the PKK’s increasing violent and fatal acts of terrorism.” The international community needs to take a hard-line approach to terrorism. This does not mean allowing xenophobia to increase. International communities need to condemn all acts of terrorism, terror attacks are never acceptable especially when innocent lives are claimed. No terror group should be seen as more acceptable than another. Violence and coercion are wrong and should be labelled as such. The international community also needs to ensure that its citizens do not lash out in fear and racially target groups that they associate with terrorism, as it increases dissent and aids extremist groups in their attempts to destabilise peace.

Annemarie Lewis

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