Latest Updates on Istanbul Atatürk Airport Attack: 5 Facts You Should Know
Terrorists stormed the Atatürk airport in Istanbul on Tuesday night, killing at least 41 people and leaving another 239 injured. Though the Islamic State has yet to officially claim responsibility for the attack, the group has gained a footing in the region and the attack seems to have similarities with other ISIS-related attacks, as well as terror attacks spurred by Kurdish separatists, BBC reported Wednesday.
"The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world," Turkish President Recep Tayyip said about the attack, noting the explosions should be a major turning point in the international war on terror. New reports continue to paint a picture into what happened inside of the airport's walls and surrounding parking lot where the terrorists opened fire and detonated explosives.
Here's what we know so far:
The terror attack was a coordinated effort: The three terrorists opened fire near the terminal entrance to the Istanbul hub on Tuesday before detonating explosive devices on their person. At least two members of the group gained entrance to the airport, running through hallways and shooting at crowds as police chased them down. BBC reporter Mark Lowen, who reported from a stalled plane on the airport's tarmac, described the hubs as a vulnerable target since the Atatürk Airport doesn't have a security method for checking cars entering the area.
A video shows a terrorist apparently having difficulty detonating his vest: CNN reported one terrorist was shot by an officer after entering the airport, but still managed to detonate the explosives attached to his body before his death. A chilling video shows airport security footage the moment it happened: The terrorist falls to his feet in the middle of an open area as a passerby sprints away. The terrorist spends nearly 20 seconds on the ground before his vest explodes.
Turkey is in the midst of a security crisis: Between the Islamic State and Kurdish fighters in Syria, the nation is grappling with a series of growing security issues making it a target for international terror activity. A ceasefire between the country and the Kurdistan Workers Party ended last year, spurring new violence and fights on Turkish soil.
A wave of terror is targeting Istanbul: At least five major terror attacks have struck the Turkish city this year alone, USA Today reported. "ISIS has had a campaign against Turkey for the past year," former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey told the publication. He noted the U.S.-backed coalition of airstrikes and on-the-ground defense against ISIS as a cause for the terror group's "striking back" throughout the nation.
The airport has already reopened: Atatürk is the 11th-busiest airport in the world — the third in Europe. Despite Tuesday night's incident, the airport was reopened on Wednesday, with a Turkish flag planted in the heart of the travel hub, CNN reported. Those passing through the airport described an eerily calm scene the next day, as passengers went about their business. "everything's quite calm right now, which is a little surreal as opposed to the scenes we saw here last night," one witness told CNN. "They were sweeping up debris, and someone had hung up a big Turkish flag, pretty much right at the spot where (a) bomb had gone off — sort of an act of defiance, which was quite moving."