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'Terrorists' open fire at Istanbul airport

At least 10 people were killed and 20 others injured in an attack on Istanbul Atatürk Airport.

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Paramedics push a stretcher at Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, Turkey, following a blast Tuesday.

Osman Orsal/Reuters

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Two explosions have rocked Istanbul's Ataturk airport, killing at least 10 people and wounding around 20 others, Turkey's justice minister and another official said Tuesday.

Bekir Bozdag said that according to preliminary information, "a terrorist at the international terminal entrance first opened fire with a Kalashnikov and then blew himself up."

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Another official said two attackers detonated explosives at the entrance of the international terminal after police fired at them.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government protocol, said he was citing information from the interior ministry. It wasn't immediately clear why his account of the number of attackers was different to the justice minister's.

The official said the attackers blew themselves up before entering the x-ray security check at the airport entrance.

Turkish airports have security checks at both at the entrance of terminal buildings and then later before entry to departure gates.

Roads around the airport were sealed off for regular traffic after the attack and several ambulances could be seen driving back and forth.

The private DHA news agency said the wounded, among them police officers, were being transferred to Bakirkoy State Hospital.

Turkey has suffered several bombings in recent months linked to Kurdish or Islamic State group militants.

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The bombings included two in Istanbul targeting tourists — which the authorities have blamed on the Islamic State group.

Extremist attacks inspired by both the Islamic State and the Kurdistan Workers Party have increased in scale and frequency, scaring off tourists and hurting the economy, which relies heavily on tourism revenues. Still, Ankara has expressed optimism about turning the tide against violent extremism, as Alexander Christie-Miller reported for the Monitor earlier this month:

At a time when the 32-year-old Kurdish insurgency is arguably at its deadliest, Turkey claims its “hearts and minds” strategy is succeeding in undermining popular support for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). But long-time observers fear that the government is failing to win over Kurds, and that the fight is leading the country toward deeper instability.

Istanbul's Ataturk Airport was the 11th busiest airport in the world last year, with 61.8 million passengers, according to Airports Council International. It is also one of the fastest-growing airports in the world, seeing 9.2 percent more passengers last year than in 2014.

The largest carrier at the airport is Turkish Airlines, which operates a major hub there. Low-cost Turkish carrier Onur Air is the second-largest airline there.


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