“According to the information I was given, a terrorist at the international terminal entrance first opened fire with a Kalashnikov and then blew himself up,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told Turkey’s state-run news agency earlier in the evening.
Footage of panic inside Istanbul’s main airport after two suspects blew themselves up https://t.co/om7sYHtX7N https://t.co/C2S30tUIFx
— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 28, 2016
NTV reported that one of the explosions occurred at the international terminal while another took place at the domestic terminal. However, that report was not immediately confirmed by Turkish authorities.
A Turkish official told The Washington Post that the bombers blew themselves up after police shot at them. Another official told Reuters that the bombers detonated their explosives prior to passing through a X-ray security checkpoint.
Turkish airports have security checks at the entrance ohttp://ghanapoliticsonline.comf terminal buildings and then again before entry to departure gates.
Police sealed off the terminal and flights were prevented from taking off or landing. Some flights bound for the airport were diverted, while passengers on scheduled outbound flights were put up in nearby hotels. NTV reported that all flights would be canceled until at least 8 a.m. local time Wednesday.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced late Tuesday that all flights between Istanbul and the U.S. had been halted until further notice.
A law enforcement source told Fox News that there were no immediate plans for additional security in so-called “sterile zones”, or areas where passengers have already gone through checkpoints, at U.S. airports. The official said any decision to add security outside sterile zones would be made by state or local law enforcment.
Terrorist Attacks and Threats in Turkey | FindTheData
Some passengers were kept in Ataturk Airport for over two hours after the explosions before the terminal was evacuated. Hundreds spilled out on to the sidewalk with suitcases in their hands or stacked on trollies.
Two South African tourists, Paul and Susie Roos from Cape Town, were at the airport and due to fly home at the time of the explosions.
“We came up from the arrivals to the departures, up the escalator when we heard these shots going off,” Paul Roos told the Associated Press. “There was this guy going roaming around, he was dressed in black and he had a handgun.”
Veysel Allay, who was waiting for a friend in the arrivals terminal, told the Daily Telegraph, “A man ran up and ripped open his jacket, showing a bomb vest. I ran before he did anything.”
Picture of the terminal after one of the blast, damage suggest powerful blast rather than a grenade #Istanbul pic.twitter.com/3sRSe7lP5a
— Michael Horowitz (@michaelh992) June 28, 2016
Jim Hyong Lee of South Korea told the Telegraph he and his family were checking in for a flight home when “we heard gunshots.”
“I grabbed my family and ran,” Lee said. “Someone waved us into the prayer room and hid us there until the police came.”
Roads around the airport were sealed off for regular traffic after the attack and several ambulances could be seen driving back and forth.
First footage of #Istanbul Ata Turk airport attack. https://t.co/tcKDdIVuKp#Turkey
— Mojtaba (@MohammadZaam) June 28, 2016
In the U.S., President Obama was briefed about the attack by Lisa Monaco, his homeland security and counterterrorism adviser. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement that the Justice Department and FBI “have offered assistance to our Turkish counterparts as needed.”
A law enforcement source told Fox News that FBI assets had not been sent to Istanbul as of Tuesday evening.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign released a statement saying, “The terrorist threat 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.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released a statement saying the attack “only strengthens our resolve to defeat the forces of terrorism and radical jihadism around the world. And it reminds us that the United States cannot retreat.”
Ataturk Airport is the largest in Turkey and the third busiest in Europe behind London’s Heathrow Airport and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle. More than 60 million passengers went through the hub in 2015. It is also one of the fastest-growing airports in the world, seeing 9.2 percent more passengers last year than in 2014.
Turkey has been the target of recent terror attacks by ISIS extremists, as well as Kurdish nationalist groups. Earlier this month, a car bomb targeted a bus carrying riot police in Istanbul, killing 11 people and injuring 36 others.
The attacks have increased in scale and frequency, scaring off tourists and hurting the Turkish economy, which relies heavily on tourism revenues.
Fox News’ Matthew Dean and The Associated Press contributed to this report.