At Least 28 Dead In Attack On Istanbul International Airport

Jun 28, 2016
Originally published on June 28, 2016 7:57 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And we begin this hour with latest on an attack at the airport in Istanbul, Turkey, an attack that has left at least 28 people dead and many more wounded. NPR national security correspondent Mary Louise Kelly is here. And Mary Louise - still a fluid situation. What other facts do we have?

MARY LOUISE KELLY, BYLINE: It is a fluid situation unfolding at Ataturk Airport. We have footage coming in showing smoke at the airport, showing what appears to be a blinding flash of light, an explosion in front of the airport entrance - many unknowns at this hour, Robert - among them how many explosions. The governor of Istanbul says they are looking into possibly three, but again, we don't know.

We don't know where exactly in the airport this - these explosions may have taken place, whether they were before or after security checkpoints or a combination - and how many attackers also still an unknown. It looks like several, possibly three. Turkey's justice minister has come out and confirmed that at least one of the attackers opened fire with an automatic rifle before the blasts began.

SIEGEL: And tell us a bit about the target, the airport.

KELLY: It's Turkey's biggest airport. It's the third-biggest in Europe, actually. It's behind only Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle in Paris - so a hub for business travelers, a hub for tourists. I was just there at that airport this past summer as a tourist. Security was already intense and would have gotten more so because, of course, this is the latest in a series of bombings that have rocked Turkey in recent months.

In February, there was a car bomb in Ankara, the capital - in March, another car bomb in Ankara and then in Istanbul itself where these events are unfolding today - recent suicide bombings that have targeted the heart of tourist parts of that city.

SIEGEL: Any indication of a claim of responsibility by either ISIS or al-Qaida or some other group?

KELLY: Not so far. It's of course early stages, and this is complicated because some of those recent attacks have been attributed to ISIS. Some have been attributed to Kurdish militants who are in fact battling ISIS across Turkey's border with Syria.

And one more point worth remembering - just a couple of years ago, Turkey was seen as a stable, prosperous country. This is obviously a tragedy for the victims of this attack at the airport, also for a country itself that was trying not to lapse into the chaos that has engulfed its neighbors.

SIEGEL: NRP national security correspondent Mary Louise Kelly, thanks.

KELLY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.