Sat, Jul 02, 2016 - Page 7 News List

Passengers take post-attack selfies at Istanbul’s airport

AFP, ISTANBUL, Turkey

An airport employee mourns for his collegues as he looks at the pictures of killed airport employees at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Just two days after triple suicide bombings, Istanbul’s main international airport is as usual a hive of activity — but with passengers snapping selfies in front of bullet-shattered windows.

Staff at Istanbul Ataturk Airport are trying to pick up the pieces after Tuesday night’s attack, which left 44 people dead at one of Europe’s busiest hubs.

“I don’t know how, but only hours after the explosions, the deaths and the injuries, flights were able to run normally again,” one tourism executive at the airport said.

There were few visible signs of extra security at Ataturk on Thursday, though Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has promised “specially trained” staff would be added at the nation’s airports.

In some respects it could be any other day, between the long check-in lines and the hubbub of passengers chatting in Arabic, Portuguese and French, but these conversations take place besides smashed windows and under a ceiling missing tiles that crashed down during one of the blasts.

Some passengers have their photographs taken in front of this grim new decor, as workers try to repair the damage as best they can.

Passengers must pass through security scanners to enter the arrivals and departures halls — but at the exit gates, a reporter saw only a guard armed with a baton.

It was at one of these exits that an attacker was able to penetrate the building before blowing himself up, several witnesses said.

An airport guard said another bomber “went through the security barrier shooting at the guards.”

“The terrorists were wearing big black coats and their guns were hidden under them,” taxi driver Akin Duman said. “It was very hot — it was their clothing that gave them away.”

The prime minister has said the attackers arrived with automatic rifles hidden in suitcases and shot their way inside.

Nazife Yurtcu, who lives in Germany, flew back to Istanbul on Thursday to visit family in spite of the security worries.

“Given the suicide bombers were able to get inside the airport with guns and bombs, I was reassured to see more police at the entrances and exits,” Yurtcu said.

However, one guard at Ataturk, who was working when the bombers struck, expressed doubt the promised extra security staff would ever arrive.

“Nothing will change,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“What happened reflects the state of Turkey,” he added, as he nervously scanned his surroundings.

Meanwhile, in front of a shattered window a Kurdish car-hire worker counted his blessings that he was away at the time of the attacks, breaking the Ramadan fast.

“It was God that saved me,” said the man in his 30s.

He expressed little confidence in the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to fight the Islamic State group, who have been blamed for the attack.

“It’s no secret that the AKP [Erdogan’s party] prefers to concentrate on fighting the Kurds rather than attacking the real terrorists,” he said.

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