Turkey’s prime minister has called a suicide blast at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul a “heinous planned attack”.
The death toll from a suicide attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport has risen to 41 as Turkish officials blamed Islamic State militants.
Twenty-three Turkish citizens and 13 foreign nationals were among those killed, and almost 150 other people were injured, when three suicide bombers targeted the airport on Tuesday evening.
Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim said the bombers arrived at the airport in a taxi and blew themselves up after opening fire on passengers, but there are conflicting accounts of the attack.
A Turkish official said authorities are going through CCTV footage and witness statements to establish a preliminary timeline and details of Tuesday evening’s attack, describing the investigation as “a jigsaw puzzle”.
“It is meaningful that this heinous attack came at a time when we have become successful in the fight against separatist terrorism and at a time when we started a process of normalising ties with our neighbours,” Mr Yildirim said.
Following the attack, the Israeli embassy said in a statement “Israel harshly condemns the hideous terror attack on Istanbul Ataturk Airport yesterday that claimed the lives of many innocent people”.
“We extend our condolences to the Turkish government, the Turkish people, and the families of those who lost their lives; and we wish a speedy recovery to those who are injured” as reported by Times of Israel.
Israel’s Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu posted on Twitter his country “strongly condemns” the attack, adding that “all civilized nations must stand together to fight the scourge of terrorism.”
Israel strongly condemns yesterday's terror attack in Istanbul. All civilized nations must stand together to fight the scourge of terrorism.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) June 29, 2016
Israeli politicians sent condolences to the Turkish people. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called “murderous terror the main enemy of humanity”, whilst Yair Lapid posted a message on Facebook which said: “I send condolences to families of those killed in Turkey.”
“And with anger and disgust, condemn expressions like ‘they deserved it’ about the deaths of innocent people”.
Other Israeli politicians that condemned the attack included Israel’s Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein who wrote a letter to his Turkish counterpart.
Murderous terror is the main enemy of humanity. My heart and thoughts are with the victims at Ataturk airport.
— יצחק הרצוג (@HerzogMK) June 28, 2016
The attack comes after Israel signed a reconciliatory deal with Turkey after six years of severance of ties between Jerusalem and Ankara.
Following extensive negotiations, the two regional powers agreed terms, including a $20 million compensation fund for victims of the Israeli commando raid on Turkish aid workers sailing towards Gaza in 2010, leaving nine dead.
In turn, Turkey’s rulers have agreed to help convince Islamists Hamas in Gaza to repatriate two Israeli nationals and the bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 conflict.
The deal, finalised in Rome this weekend, would see Turkey help rebuild key infrastructure in Gaza, with material entering through the port of Ashdod for a 200-bed hospital, a power station and a desalinisation plant, to help ease the Strip’s twin water and energy crises.