Terrifying moment ISIS suicide bomber blew himself up in Istanbul airport terminal in Brussels-style attack that left at least 41 dead and 239 injured
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- Three explosions rocked Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in a co-ordinated suicide attack at 8pm GMT last night
- Eyewitness saw a police officer wrestle attacker to the ground just moments before the blast shook the terminal
- A total of 41 people are confirmed dead however this total is expected to rise to 50, according to Turkish officials
- Reports claimed that ISIS is to blame for the attack, according to Turkish news agencies citing police sources
- Turkish Airlines is the official airline partner of the Euro 2016 football tournament currently being held in France
Witnesses have described the terrifying moment three suicide bombers launched a co-ordinated attack on Istanbul airport that has left at least 41 dead saying there was blood and body parts everywhere.
Shocking footage has shown an explosion at the door to the arrivals hall by a suicide bomber before another two attackers snuck into the building and dentonated their devices.
Twenty-three of the victims were Turkish citizens and 13 foreign nationals were also among the casualties, an official has said. A total of 41 people have already been confirmed dead, but Turkish officials said that number is expected to rise to 50.
This morning the airport has re-opened while investigators piece together what happened, just hours after the attacks, which also left 239 people injured.
One of the passengers who was travelling through Ataturk airport at the time of the blasts was Laurence Cameron, a British cameraman who was travelling from Latvia to Izmir, on the Turkish coast.
Footage appears to show the moment one of the three bombs was detonated in the devastating suicide attack at Turkey’s Ataturk airport
One of the three terrorists that struck at Turkey’s Ataturk Airport wields an AK-47 as he carries out his killing spree (up), while a man carries a wounded boy away from the airport (down)
Paramedics and special forces officers at the scene help the more than 140 wounded at the airport. At least 41 others were killed
An AK-47 can be seen lying abandoned on the floor, after three suicide bombers set off blasts at the airport as police returned fire
Bodies lie on the pavement outside Istanbul’s international airport after explosions and gunfire shook the terminal
Turkish security agencies and emergency services gathered outside Ataturk airport after it was hit by a suicide bomb attack
And he believes believes his plane had arrived just as the bombs began to detonate.
As he walked into the terminal, unaware of what had just happened, he was met with chaos, panic and fear.
‘It must have been just as we touched down,’ he told MailOnline. ‘I did not even hear the explosions, but as I walked out and round the corner, the whole building was running screaming towards me.
‘It was just mass panic, guards running around with guns.’
Mr Cameron, originally from Kent, was stuck for half-an-hour, waiting at customs, before he and his fellow passengers were allowed through and out the terminal.
However, the only way to leave the building was to go through the very place where the bombs had been detonated less than an hour before.
‘There was blood on the floor. It was just horrendous. Debris everywhere. A lot of the ceiling panels had fallen down, smashed all over the floor.
Coffins of the dead are loaded on to the back of a hearse to be taken away from a forensic building close to the airport in Istanbul
The clean-up operation begins at Ataturk airport with as shattered glass and debris lies on the pavement around the terminal building
As the airport began to re-open this morning, sniffer dogs looking for explosives patrolled the front of the terminal building
A flight attendant reports for work at Ataturk Airport this morning, just hours after up to 50 people were killed in an attack by three suicide bombers
A member of the security services puts a cordon in place where one of the suicide bombers blew himself up as the airport returns to normal
A Turkish anti riot police officer and an employee of a private security company check a passengers entering the Ataturk airport international arrival terminal this morning
‘Coming out to the taxi rank, it was just full of ambulances. Blood was smeared all up to the car park.
‘People were in tears, especially people with families. They were quite clearly traumatised. There was a lot of uncertainty, no one really knew what was going on. Were we safe where we were?’
He added: ‘There is nowhere to go but out through passport control [if you are in an airport terminal]. It’s not nice – it should be safe, but at that moment it was not.’
Two South African tourists, Paul and Susie Roos from Cape Town, were also at the airport and due to fly home at the time of the explosions and were making their way up to the departure hall, a floor above arrivals.
‘We came up from the arrivals to the departures, up the escalator when we heard these shots going off,’ Mr Roos told news agencies.
‘There was this guy going roaming around, he was dressed in black and he had a hand gun.’
He added: ‘We came right to international departures and saw the man randomly shooting. He was just firing at anyone coming in front of him. His face was not masked. I was 50 metres away from him.
Desperate passengers embrace as they gather in shock outside the terminal after the airport was evacuated and all flights were grounded
A wounded girl is carried on a stretcher into the Bakirkoy Sadi Konuk Hospital after being injured in the blasts at Ataturk Airport
Relatives of those who were caught up in the bombings at Ataturk airport wait outside the Bakirkoy Sadi Konuk Hospital for news on their loved ones
A mother who lost one of her children in the attack has to be helped from the ground outside a forensic medicine building close to Istanbul Airport
Another mother of one of the victims is comforted after learning the fate of one of her children after suicide bombers opened fire before blowing themselves up
‘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.
‘He turned around and started coming towards us. He was holding his gun inside his jacket. He looked around anxiously to see if anyone was going to stop him and then went down the escalator. We heard some more gunfire and then another explosion, and then it was over.’
Another witness, Ali Tekin, who was at the arrivals hall when the attack took place, said: ‘There was a huge explosion, extremely loud. The roof came down. Inside the airport it is terrible, you can’t recognise it, the damage is big.’
A German woman named Duygu, who was at passport control entering Turkey, said she threw herself onto the floor when she heard the sound of the explosion. Several witnesses also reported hearing gunfire shortly before the attacks.
‘Everyone started running away. Everywhere was covered with blood and body parts. I saw bullet holes on the doors,’ she said outside the airport.
Another witness, Otfah Mohamed Abdullah, told AFP: ‘Somebody came and shot at us and then my sister was running. I don’t know which way she was running and after that I was falling down. I was on the ground till he finished… I can’t find my sister.’
Roads around the airport were sealed off for regular traffic after the attack and several ambulances could be seen driving back and forth. Hundreds of passengers were flooding out of the airport and others were sitting on the grass.
Hevin Zini, 12, had just arrived from Duesseldorf, Germany, with her family and was in tears from the shock.
An aerial view of the airport shows where the suicide bombers are believed to have detonated their explosives, close to the entrance to the international arrivals terminal
After the blasts, passengers inside the terminal building began to flee with some being forced to jump or duck under barriers
People who had just arrived at the airport in Istanbul after the blasts were pictured running as they tried to flee the scene
Passengers arriving at the airport after stepping off flights were greeted with chaotic scenes after the attacks
Ceiling tiles scattered over the ground outside the international arrivals terminal, which was hit by three suicide blasts on Tuesday night
Police investigators begin to search the area where the explosions went off, at the international airport in Istanbul, shortly before 10pm local time – 7.50pm GMT
Crime scene investigators work next to a body after a suicide bomb attack killed dozens of people at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey
‘There was blood on the ground,’ she told The Associated Press. ‘Everything was blown up to bits… if we had arrived two minutes earlier, it could have been us.’
South African Judy Favish, who spent two days in Istanbul as a layover on her way home from Dublin, had just checked in when she heard an explosion followed by gunfire and a loud bang.
She says she hid under the counter for some time.
Ms Favish says passengers were ushered to a cafeteria at the basement level where they were kept for more than an hour before being allowed outside.
Meanwhile, a BBC radio presenter has spoken of her relief after she received a call from her daughter who had been at the airport, that she was safe.
Sophie Mackentyre, 19, daughter of Stephanie Mackentyre, had been at Ataturk airport en route to South Korea.
Mrs Mackentyre from Felixstowe told the BBC: ‘Thankfully I finally managed to get hold of her and she was on the plane, but no idea why they were being held.
‘So I gave her some brief details. I didn’t want to scare her, she was there with two friends, and it transpired they were on the plane for five hours.
They got off at 00:30 last night, and were allowed into the airport building.’
Duncan Ross, from Troon, Scotland was meeting friends at Ataturk Airport when there were three explosions.
Mr Ross, a teacher, who was celebrating his 23rd birthday at the time of the disaster, said: ‘I was at the airport. I was knocked over by the second blast.
‘I saw the second guy shooting. I saw it all.
‘Never in my life have I been so terrified but thankfully I’m okay.’
Elsewhere, eyewitnesses have also described the moment a hero policeman shot down one of the suicide bombers before he was able to detonate his explosives, giving holidaymakers a chance to escape and saving countless lives.
Ambulances rush to the airport after the blasts on Tuesday night, in which 239 people – including foreigners – were injured
Police officers and ambulance crews outside the international arrivals terminal, which was struck in what officials say was a terror attack
Dozens of paramedics help the wounded following the airport attack, which left at least 140 people wounded and 41 dead
In shocking footage that captured the moment, the gunman can be seen running through the international arrivals terminal before falling to the ground – apparently felled by a police bullet – and sending his AK-47 skidding across the floor.
The police officer then approaches the gunman before realising he is about to detonate his suicide vest and running for his life.
Moments later, as the gunman writhes in pain on the floor, he detonates his bomb and the screen goes blank.
It is believed the gunmen arrived at the airport in a taxi and were trying to pass through the security x-ray machines at the entrance when they were stopped by security officers and carried out their lethal attack – unleashing a spray of bullets against officers.
Two of the attackers detonated their explosives at the terminal entrance after being fired upon by police, while the third blew himself up in the car park, according to a Turkish official.
Turkish Airlines is the official airline partner to the Euro 2016 football tournament, being held in France and 2.5million British holidaymakers head to the country each year.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said all initial indications point to ISIS as having carried out the attack, however there has yet been no official claim of responsibility. At least one of the attackers is reported to have been a foreign national.
When asked whether a fourth attacker might have escaped, Mr Yildirim said authorities have no such assessment but are considering every possibility.
And although ISIS has not yet claimed responsibility for the attack, it is believed supporters of the terror group have been praising the explosions online.
According to Breitbart Jerusalem, ISIS supporters using an encrypted forum said they believed the attacks were ‘retaliation’s against Turkey.
They reported a Moroccan jihadi as saying: ‘Friends, Turkey has become a member of the axis of infidel countries fighting and showing hostility against us.
‘They kill our brothers on a daily basis by launching airstrikes on our country, and the blessed bombings that we hope our brothers are responsible for is a natural reaction and only a small part of the price Turkey has to pay for its policy against our brothers.’
Earlier, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag confirmed that the airport had been attacked at 7.50pm GMT – 9.50pm local time. Following his comments the number of terrorists believed to have been involved in the attack rose to three.
‘A terrorist at the international terminal entrance first opened fire with a Kalashnikov and then blew himself up,’ he said, speaking to parliament in the country’s capital of Ankara.
Turkish airports have security checks at both at the entrance of terminal buildings and then later before entry to departure gates.
Nevertheless the airport – the third busiest in Europe – has long been seen as a vulnerable target, according to the BBC.
Around 30 ambulances arrived at the scene to rush the dozens of people wounded in the series of three suicide explosions to hospital
Photographs from the scene of the attack show devastation, as paramedics rush the wounded to hospital and forensic officers start work
Shocked crowds of bystanders and holidaymakers mix with emergency services crews outside the terminal where the attackers struck
Ambulance crews ferry the wounded away from the terminal. The wounded are believed to include a number of police officers and security personnel, as well as foreigners
While there are x-ray scanners at the entrance, security checks for cars are limited which left the airport exposed to what is being called a ‘major, co-ordinated attack’.
BBC correspondent Mark Lowen, speaking from a grounded plane on the Ataturk runway on Tuesday night, said: ‘We are being kept on board the plane and not being allowed to disembark because of what’s happening inside the airport.
‘We are not being told when we will be allowed to leave the aircraft, of course.
‘I have lived here for two years and often thought coming into this airport it is a potentially vulnerable place and an attack could take place here because cars are not searched very often coming into the airport area.
‘That said, as you come into the terminal building there are x-ray machines and scanners.’
The first photographs to emerge from the airport showed a scene of devastation, with debris and what appear to be ceiling tiles scattered over the taxis queuing outside the airport.
One photograph from the scene shows an AK-47 lying abandoned on the floor of the airport following the attack. Among those who died were five Saudis, two Iraqis, one Tunisian, an Uzbek, a Chinese, an Iranian, a Ukrainian and a Jordanian national.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged an international ‘joint fight’ against terror after the attack, the fourth deadly bombing in Istanbul this year alone.
Turkish special forces members secure the area after a suicide bomb attack at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. Officials said that all early indications point to ISIS as having carried out the attack
Turkish police officers stand outside Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, where scores of people have been injured or have died in a ‘major and co-ordinated’ attack
Forensic officers enter the terminal where three suicide bombers earlier opened fire and detonated suicide vests at Ataturk airport
Turkish security officers in armoured vehicles gathered outside the airport as the site was searched for further explosives
Evacuated passengers stand with trolleys packed with luggage outside the airport after fleeing for their lives
He said: ‘For terrorist groups, there is no difference between İstanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, İzmir and Chicago or Antalya and Rome.
‘If all countries, all humanity will not join their forces, every terrifying things in our minds will happen one by one. I hope this Atatürk Airport bombings will be a milestone, a turning point of the battle against terrorist groups around the world.
‘If states, as all humanity, fail to join forces and wage a joint fight against terrorist organisations, all the possibilities that we dread in our minds will come true one by one.’
He added: ‘The attack, which took place during the holy month of Ramadan, shows that terrorism strikes with no regard for faith and values.’
Prime Minister David Cameron described the terrorist attack as ‘hideous’.
Mr Cameron, in Brussels for what is likely to be his final EU summit meeting with fellow leaders, said the UK would continue to work with the other countries after Brexit on ‘keeping our countries safe, keeping our people safe – and it’s particularly important to say that tonight again when there has been another hideous terrorist attack in Turkey’.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he was ‘shocked by the attack in Istanbul’ adding: ‘Thoughts are with those affected. We stand ready to help.’
U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump said the threat of terrorism ‘has never been greater’.
‘We must take steps now to protect America from terrorists, and do everything in our power to improve our security to keep America safe,’ he said in a statement.
His rival Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, added that ‘all Americans stand united with the people of Turkey against this campaign of hatred and violence’.
Forensic officers work outside the airport terminal where three terrorists detonated explosive vests after opening fire with Kalashnikovs
Witnesses reported seeing around 30 ambulances arrive at the airport following the killing spree, conducted by three terrorists believed to be from ISIS. However, no official claims of responsibility have yet been made
The first images to emerge from the scene show debris, including what appear to be ceiling tiles, scattered over taxis queuing at the airport
An abandoned office at Turkey’s largest airport, the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, where explosions and gunfire broke out on Tuesday evening. A window pane to the right of the image appears to have been shattered
Taxis ferried the wounded away from the airport, after it was targeted by three suicide bombers in what has been described as a ‘major and co-ordinated’ attack
While NATO’s chief has strongly condemned the ‘horrific attacks’, and said Turkey’s 27 allies in the U.S-led political and military organization stand with it.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, said in a statement: ‘My thoughts are with the families of the 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.
Police evacuated the airport terminal, where terrified holidaymakers had previously been gathering to await news following the blasts. Groups of stranded tourists were left waiting on the pavements outside the airport, while others tried to hail taxis to take them the 12 miles back into the city.
The private DHA news agency said the wounded were being transferred to Bakirkoy State Hospital.
An estimated 30 ambulance crews descended on the stricken airport, as the number of wounded is expected to increase.
A witness told broadcaster CNN Turk that gunfire was heard from the direction of the car park at the airport, which is the largest in Turkey.
Four armed men were reportedly seen running away from the terminal building after the explosions, according to Turkey’s NTV channel, however these reports have not been confirmed.
All flight operation from the airport was suspended, and passengers hoping to travel were kept inside the airport for their own safety where mobile phone footage captured scenes of terror and confusion as crowds gathered in corridors awaiting news.
Around the time of the attack, Turkish Airlines flights from Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Dublin were scheduled to land.
British Airways passengers on flight BA680 from London Heathrow to Ataturk were returned to the UK following the blasts.
The flight had been due to land at around 11.40pm local time shortly after the explosions.
A photograph of the entrance to the international airport shows scattered debris as onlookers gather around to help the wounded – estimated to number more than 100 people
A woman cries outside Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, where three terrorists sprayed bullets at the terminal before detonating suicide vests
Passengers comfort each other after the horror of the attack, which saw three suicide bombers blow themselves up at the terminal entrance
Relatives of the bomb attack victims wait outside Bakirkoy Sadi Konuk Hospital for news of their loved ones after the suicide blasts
Families wait outside the terminal with their luggage after all planes were grounded following the attack, in which three gunmen opened fire and detonated suicide vests
Two women hold each other at the entrance to Istanbul’s Atatruk airport after being evacuated
Officials evacuated the terminal following the blasts, leaving dozens of holidaymakers stranded on the pavements outside the airport
Passengers stand with their luggage outside the airport as the lights of emergency service vehicles can be seen closer to the scene
Members of a flight crew leave Istanbul airport in the early hours of Wednesday morning after an attack by suspected ISIS extremists
Passengers lie on the ground outside Turkey’s largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk after the suicide bomb attacks