Tuesday, June 28

Breaking News: Two explosions and gunfire reported at Ataturk Airport UPDATED 4:10, 4:24, 4:38, 4:35, 5:18, 5:23, 7:10, 8:15, 9:25 PM EDT

Latest report from CBS news website; verbal report from CBS correspondent J.J. Green on WTOP local 9 PM news -- One American killed in the bombing. This isn't (yet) posted at the CBS website.  

The death toll has changed again, with the current confirmed number at 36.   

Latest on Ataturk Airport bombings - "nearly" 50 dead, 60 wounded (NYT) although RT live updates page is now reporting "at least" 50 dead and "100+ injured."  

Exactly what happened is still unclear -- conflicting reports from major media but the gist is that airport police spotted two or three people acting suspiciously on their way to the security x-ray check-in line and when they approached the group the terrorists opened fire with automatic weapons with police returning fire.  At some point in the melee one detonated a suicide vest and another who fled detonated his vest in the car park or just outside the terminal. But there are unconfirmed reports of more than two blasts (see below RT report) and up to four terrorists or more could still be at large.  

Right now authorities are leaning toward Islamic State as the perp rather than Kurdish insurgents.

See my earlier updates [below] for more details.

From RT:

28 June 2016
  • 22:52 GMT
    Traveler Laurence Cameron described what he saw when he stepped off a plane at Ataturk to CNN.
    "It was just a massive crowd of screaming people. Some were falling over themselves. A poor chap in a wheelchair was just left, and everyone just rushed to the back of the building, and then people ran the other way and no one really seemed to know what was going on," he said. "Where you normally hail a taxi, that is where the attack happened. The ground is just kind of shredded. There is bloodstains on the floor as well."
  • 22:18 GMT
    One of the attackers "randomly opened fire" in the terminal building before the explosions, a witness told Reuters. There were two explosions, followed by more shooting, then a third explosion.
  • [...]

UPDATE 5:23 PM - From CNN report last updated 5:15 PM EDT
-- At least 28 people have been killed and 60 others wounded in the attack on Istanbul Ataturk Airport in Turkey, according to Turkey's semi-official news agency Anadolu. The report says six of the wounded are in a critical condition. A total of 49 ambulances were sent to the site.
-- Turkey's Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag earlier said at least 10 people were killed and 20 others injured. The two suicide bombers were also killed. Bozdag said one attacker "first opened fire with a Kalashnikov then detonated himself" at the airport entrance.
    -- In total two bombs exploded. One of them was located just outside the terminal on the pavement, the other was at the security gate at the entrance to the airport.
    -- Authorities said no bombs exploded within the airport building itself, according to the minister.
    -- A video posted to Twitter shows a view from a camera inside the airport terminal. A few dozen people are walking around when a bright flash and fireball erupt in the background.
    -- A Turkish official told CNN that police fired shots at suspects near the international terminal in an effort to neutralize them.
    -- Videos posted on social media show travelers sitting on the airport floor. A man shouts, "Get down! Get down!" Someone cries as a gunshot rings out.
    -- Ataturk Airport is "one of the most secure airports in the world," CNN senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes says. But the airport has been "very overwhelmed for several decades with terrorism from PKK."
    -- The U.S. embassy in Ankara, the Turkish capital, is sending consular officers to the airport to account for any potential U.S. victims. But there are no indications of any American casualties at this point, a senior State Department official told CNN's Elise Labott.
    -- The attacks happened on a warm summer night at the airport, east of Istanbul, that is the 11th busiest in the world in terms of passenger traffic. CNN's Ali Veshi says it is a modern, sophisticated airport. "There are all of the major European and American boutiques there," said Velshi, who has traveled through Turkey many times. "... You see people of all shapes and colors, in all sorts of dress. If you want to target the cosmopolitan nature of Istanbul, this is possibly the most cosmopolitan, heavily populated part. You can target tourist areas, but this is the part where the world comes together."
    UPDATE 5:18 PM - From verbal report on local WTOP newscast at 5:00 PM by J.J. Green CBS correspondent - 

    • at least 10 dead, at least 60 wounded.
    • Ataturk International Airport is "tenth or eleventh" busiest airport in the world.  Entire airport for both incoming and outgoing flights has been shut down.
    • U.S. State Dept officials checking on whether any Americans were harmed in the attack.
    • [one account of what happened] airport police noticed 2 men [or three] acting suspiciously at airport entrance, when they approached a third man joined them and the group opened fire, police returned fire.
    • 1 attacker then detonated suicide vest inside airport, another detonated in the car park area. 

    UPDATE 4:35 PM - From NBC News report filed 4:22 PM EDT

    [...] A person who works for a contractor inside the airport told NBC News that he saw three suicide bombers.
    The man, who identified himself as Omar, said he heard an explosion and then saw police jump on a man who then blew himself up. People then tried to stop another person who appeared to be wearing explosives.
    Another witness gave a similar account to NBC News, and said he heard a third explosion outside.
    One witness told national broadcaster TRT that he saw two attackers open fire and then blow themselves up as authorities responded at a security checkpoint outside the international terminal. At least one of the gunmen was armed with an AK-47, TRT said, quoting the justice minister.
    The account could not be immediately confirmed by NBC News.
    Video posted to social media purports to show travelers hiding in a store inside the airport amid the chaos: 
    A senior U.S. counterterrorism official told NBC News the Istanbul attack "fits the ISIS profile, not PKK."
    "There are only two groups capable of carrying out such a large-scale attack. This does not fit the PKK profile, they go after Turkish targets, not international targets," the official said.
    "This is indiscriminate, which fits the ISIS profile," the official added.
    UPDATE 4:30 PM
    From RT live updates 20:19 GMT entry: now Turkey's Justice Minister is saying 20 were wounded (not 40).  Still fog of war, conflicting reports. 

    UPDATE 4:24 PM EDT
    from reuters report filed 4:13 PM EDT

    • Broadcaster CNN Turk said Turkish officials suspected that suicide bombers were behind the attack but there was no official confirmation of this.
    • Pictures posted on social media from the site showed wounded people lying on the ground inside and outside one of the terminal buildings.
    • Ataturk is Turkey's largest airport and a major transport hub for international travelers.

    Update 4:10 PM EDT 

    RT television breaking news 4 PM EDT: attack happened around 10:15 PM local time; at least 2 of the explosions were terrorists detontating suicide bombs; some witnesses report gunfire was from airport security trying to stop suicide bombers. Four "gunmen" seen running from the scene. Turkish officials report at least 10 dead and at least 40 wounded.  

    From RT print report last edited time: 28 Jun, 2016 19:53

    At least two explosions have been reported at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. Many people have been wounded, according to Turkish media.

    The blasts occurred in the airport’s International Arrivals Terminal.

    A Turkish official confirmed to Reuters that two explosions have hit the airport. According to some Turkish media, the blasts were terrorist attacks targeting two separate locations in the airport.

    More than 40 people have been injured in explosions at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, broadcaster Haberturk reports.

    Many people caught in the blasts and near the airport posted photos and videos from the scene, showing the destruction caused by the explosions as well as people hiding in various places in search of safety.  [See RT website for some photos of the blast damage.]

    Gunfire was heard from the car park near the airport, CNN Turk reports, citing the witnesses. Four armed men were reportedly seen running away from the terminal building after the explosions, according to Turkey’s NTV channel.


    Sputnik 22:24 - 28.06.2016

    A pair of explosions and gunfire have been reported at Istanbul's Ataturk airport.

    Taxis are reportedly carrying injured people away from the airport.

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