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Istanbul Airport Reopens Hours After Attack

  • Lou Lorscheider
  • Dorian Jones

Passengers wait for their flights at Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, following yesterday's blast, June 29, 2016.

Passengers wait for their flights at Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, following yesterday's blast, June 29, 2016.

Istanbul has fully reopened Ataturk International Airport Wednesday, after a suicide attack killed 41 people and injured at more than 200 Tuesday evening.

“Our airport has been opened to flights and departures from 2:20 [local time] on,” Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a statement at the airport Wednesday.

Turkish Airlines says it has resumed all flight operations, and Washington lifted a stoppage of flights between the U.S. and Istanbul’s Ataturk airport late Tuesday.

Iran, however, suspended all flights to Istanbul Wednesday.

At least 10 of those killed in the attacks were foreigners, and 109 of the 239 injured have been released from the hospital Wednesday, according to Istanbul's governor.

Television footage Tuesday showed scenes of bedlam at Ataturk — Turkey's largest airport and one of the busiest in the world.

Paramedics push a stretcher at Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, following a blast in Turkey, June 28, 2016.

Paramedics push a stretcher at Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, following a blast in Turkey, June 28, 2016.

VOA's Dorian Jones in Istanbul says one of the bombers detonated his explosives outside the international arrival terminal. That area is usually packed with people waiting for transportation. The two other attackers are believed to have tried to enter the terminal, which is protected by heavily armed police and X-ray machines.

One witness described the scene to VOA's Turkish service. "There were two small explosions and then a large one. People scattered everywhere. They didn't know where to go. We were waiting for my sister, but couldn't find her. We're [still] waiting."

A second witness also sought to give words to the chaos. "In one direction there were shots, in another direction there were bombs, and people ran out as fast as they could and there were people bleeding on the sidewalk."

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama was on a plane that landed at the Ataturk airport just minutes after the attacks. He has since expressed his condolences to the victims, saying he felt “deep pity for the lost innocent lives in that barbarous act of those who have neither God or hope nor a place among the people” on his official twitter account.

Bodies are seen outside Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, Turkey, following a blast, June 28, 2016.

Bodies are seen outside Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, Turkey, following a blast, June 28, 2016.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Prime Minister Yildirim said early evidence points to an attack by Islamic State extremists, whom he identified by the Arabic pejorative "Daesh." He called the attack "cowardly," and vowed his country will continue to press its fight against extremism.

"Unity will be the best answer to terrorists," he said.

Islamic State has been blamed for two suicide bombings earlier this year in Istanbul targeting foreign tourists.

The Kurdish rebel group PKK also has carried out suicide bombings, but usually targets security forces, as it did this month in an attack on a police bus that killed 11 people.

In the last year, both Ankara and Istanbul have seen scores killed in bombings carried out by both Islamic State and Kurdish rebels.

VOA's Turkish Service also contributed to this report.

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