The world is under full attack. ISIS has yet to make an official claim on this, but it has their name written all over it.
Three suicide bombers have launched a ‘major, co-ordinated’ attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, spraying bullets into crowds of terrified passengers and security personnel before blowing themselves up, injuring more than 140 people and leaving a death toll expected to rise to 50.
Eyewitnesses 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.
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.
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) June 28, 2016
It is believed the gunmen were trying to pass through the security x-ray machines at the entrance to the airport, the third busiest in Europe, when they were stopped by security officers and carried out their lethal attack – unleashing a spray of bullets against officers.
A second video clip, widely circulated on social media, appears to capture the moment a second blast erupted at the entrance of the terminal sending out a huge ball of flame.
Reports tonight claim that ISIS is to blame for the attack, according to Turkey’s Dogan news agency citing police sources, however there has yet been no official claim of responsibility. At least one of the attackers is reported to have been a foreign national.
Turkish Airlines is the official airline partner to the Euro 2016 football tournament, being held in France.
The ‘vast majority’ of victims in the attack were Turkish nationals but foreigners were also among the casualties, an official has said.
A total of 36 people have tonight been confirmed dead, but Turkish officials said that number is expected to rise to 50.
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.
Footage apparently capturing the moment of the explosion. Not graphic but disturbing nonetheless. pic.twitter.com/Y3TzrXIOzh
— reported.ly (@reportedly) June 28, 2016
After being stopped as they tried to pass through x-ray machines, the attackers are believed to have opened fire and become locked in a shootout with security and police officers. Some of the wounded are said to be police officers involved in the melee.
Turkish airports have security checks at both at the entrance of terminal buildings and then later before entry to departure gates.
Nevertheless the airport has long been seen as a vulnerable target, according to the BBC.
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, 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 taxs queuing outside the airport.
One photograph from the scene shows an AK-47 lying abandoned on the floor of the airport following the attack.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged an international ‘joint fight’ against terror after the attack, the fourth deadly bombing in Istanbul this year alone.
He said: ‘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.
‘The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world.’