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Suicide bombers attack Istanbul airport, killing 41

Attackers detonated explosives at international terminal entrance after police fired at them, officials say.
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28 Jun 2016 – 05:41 PM EDT
At least 41 people were killed in the June 28 attack on Istanbul airport. Crédito: Osman Orsal/Reuters

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Three suicide bombers hit Istanbul's Ataturk airport, killing at least 41 people and wounding some 239 others, officials said Tuesday.

Officials said two attackers opened fire and detonated explosives late in the evening before entering the security check at the busy international terminal after police fired at them. A third detonated a suicide vest in a parking lot outside.

The majority of the victims were Turkish nationals but 13 foreigners were also among the dead, almost all from the Middle East, authorities said.

One video from inside the terminal showed an apparent bomber with a gun fall to the ground after being hit by police bullets before being obliterated by a large explosion.

Terrorism experts said the coordinated attack appeared to have all the hallmarks of the Muslim militant group, Islamic State (ISIL), though no-one immediately claimed responsibility.

Hevin Zini, 12, had just arrived from Duesseldorf, Germany, with her family and was in tears from the shock.

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."

Turkey has suffered several bombings, including tourist targets in recent months linked to Kurdish or Islamic State group militants. Authorities have blamed the Islamic State group, noting that Kurdish separists usually target military installations.

Turkey borders Syria to the east, torn apart by civil war and where ISIL has established a stronghold.

The US Federal Aviation Administration temporarily grounded all flights between the United States S and Istanbul. Flights in and out of Istanbul resumed Wednesday.

Istanbul is one of the world's most popular tourist cities, famous for its colorful mosques, bargain-filled Grand Bazaar and trips on the Bosphorus river that marks the boundary between Europe and Asia.

Presumptive Republican party presidential nominee Donald Trump responded to the attack by warning of the danger of threats at home. Speaking at a rally in Ohio, Trump said "there's something going on that's really, really bad. We better get smart and we better get tough or we're not going to have much of a country left."

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, said in a statement the bombings were "a reminder that the United States cannot retreat."

The U.S. must deepen its cooperation with allies and partners in the Middle East and Europe "to take on this threat," she added.

Turkish airports are considered relatively secure with checkpoints at the entrance of terminal buildings and then later before entry to departure gates.

Istanbul's modern Ataturk Airport was the 11th busiest airport in the world last year, with 61.8 million passengers, according to Airports Council International.

After the explosions hundreds of passengers could be seen spilling out of the airport with their suitcases in hand or stacked onto trolleys. Others were sitting on the grass, their bodies lit by the flashing lights of ambulances and police cars.

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 and were shaken by what they witnessed.

"We came up from the arrivals to the departures, up the escalator when we heard these shots going off," Paul Roos said. "There was this guy going roaming around, he was dressed in black and he had a hand gun."

Information from the Association Press was used in this article

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