The three suicide bombers who attacked Istanbul airport were a Russian, an Uzbek and a Kyrgyz, a senior Turkish official said Thursday, hours after police carried out sweeping raids across the city looking for Islamic State suspects. Tuesday’s gunfire and suicide bombing attack at Ataturk Airport killed 43 people and wounded more than 230 others.
CCTV’s Michal Bardavid reports from Ataturk Airport
The day opened with police conducting raids on 16 locations in Istanbul, rounding up 13 people suspected of having links to the Islamic State group, the most likely perpetrator of the attack at one of the world’s busiest airports. The manhunt spanned three neighborhoods on the city’s Asian and European sides.
Turkey’s Ambassador to the US on the need for solidarity
Turkey\'s Ambassador to the US Serdar Kılıç on airport attackCCTV America's Elmira Jafari interviewed the Turkish Ambassador to the United States Serdar Kılıç on the importance of solidarity after the recent terrorist attack in Istanbul.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations, did not name the attackers.
“A medical team is working around the clock to conclude the identification process,” the official told journalists, noting that extensive soft-tissue damage had complicated efforts to identify the attackers. The official could not confirm Turkish media reports that the Russian national was from the restive Daghestan region.
From the start, Turkish authorities have said all information suggests the attack was the work of IS, which this week boasted to have cells in Turkey, among other countries.
Ataturk Airport observes a prayer for victims of attack
After moment of silence, a Prayer for the victims of the Istanbul airport terror attack. pic.twitter.com/VehDjzD0xG
— gultuysuz (@gultuysuz) June 30, 2016
There was no immediate claim of responsibility by the militant group, which used Turkey as a crossing point to establish itself in neighboring Syria and Iraq. The group has repeatedly threatened Turkey in its propaganda publications.
A memorial service was held for the victims of Tuesday’s gunfire and suicide bombing attack at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. Mourners prayed and laid flowers at the framed photographs of some of the victims.
Turkey’s state-run news agency says a man who was wounded in the triple suicide attack at Istanbul’s airport has died of his wounds, raising the death toll to at least 44. Interior Minister Efkan Ala said 19 foreign nationals were killed in the attack. Of those who were wounded, 94 remained in hospital, the Istanbul Governor’s office reported.
Moment of silence held for victims of Ataturk Airport attack
I have never seen Ataturk airport so still… Moment for victims of istanbul airport terror attack. pic.twitter.com/I8GvryvDNM
— gultuysuz (@gultuysuz) June 30, 2016
Unconfirmed details of the attack continued to emerge on Turkish media.
The private Dogan news agency said the Russian attacker had entered the country one month ago and left his passport in a house the men had rented in the neighborhood of Fatih.
The Karsi newspaper, quoting police sources, said the trio was part of a seven-person cell who entered Turkey on May 25. The assailants raised the suspicion of airport security on the day of the attack because they showed up in winter jackets on a summer day, several media reported.
The Dogan news agency broadcast footage of the Istanbul police raids. It showed a special forces police team entering a building carrying what appeared to be a steel shield to protect from possible counterattack during the raid.
In separate large-scale police operations, nine suspects believed to be linked to the IS group were also detained in the coastal city of Izmir. It was not clear if the suspects had any links to the carnage at the airport.
The Izmir raids unfolded simultaneously in the neighborhoods of Konak, Bucak, Karabaglar and Bornova, according to Anadolu Agency. Police seized three hunting rifles and documents relating to IS.
The report said the suspects were in contact with IS militants in Syria and were engaged in “activities that were in line with the organization’s aims and interests,” including providing financial sources, recruits and logistical support.
Days before the Istanbul attack, on June 25, security forces killed two suspected Islamic State militants who were trying to cross the border illegally and ignored orders from security forces to stop, according to local media reports.
One of the two militants was wanted by Turkey on suspicion that he would carry out suicide attacks in the capital Ankara or in the southern city of Adana, Anadolu said.
Turkey shares long, porous borders with both Syria and Iraq, where IS controls large pockets of territory. The government has blamed IS for several major bombings over the past year, including in the capital Ankara, and on tourists in Istanbul.
Funerals and memorial services were held for some of the victims. Four members of one family have been confirmed as being among the Saudi nationals killed in the airport attack.
Saudi authorities identified them as Kerime, Meryem, Zehra and Huda Amiri.
With coffins wrapped in flags, prayers were said for the members of the Amiri family and a Turkish citizen, Habibullah Sefer in Istanbul on Thursday.
Victims of the assault at Istanbul’s main airport have left behind mourning friends and relatives struggling to deal with their loss.
A memorial service was held at the Ataturk Airport taxi stand for taxi drivers Erol Eskisoy and Ali Zulfikar Yorulmaz, who also died in the attack.
The Texas Rangers observed a moment of silence for the victims of the attack on Wednesday. However the Union of European Football Associations told the Associated Press that they will not hold a moment of silence at any of the Euro 2016 quarterfinals currently underway because they are not “related directly” to football.
Story by the Associated Press