The Latest: Obama calls Turkey’s leader, offers condolences

ISTANBUL (AP) — The Latest on the explosions at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport (all times local):

5:10 p.m.

President Barack Obama has telephoned his condolences to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the deadly bombing at Istanbul’s airport.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama also offered U.S. support and assistance in the investigation.

Suicide attackers armed with guns and bombs killed 41 people and wounded hundreds Tuesday night at the busy Ataturk Airport.

Obama placed the call from aboard Air Force One as he flew to Ottawa on Wednesday for meetings with the leaders of Canada and Mexico.


5:05 p.m.

The world’s largest body of Muslim-majority nations has condemned the terrorist attack on Istanbul’s international airport that killed at least 41 people and wounded hundreds.

Iyad Madani, the secretary general of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation of which Turkey is a member, stressed his “absolute rejection” of this terrorist attack carried out during Ramadan, a spiritual month during which Muslims fast daily from dusk to dawn. The attack came a week before the Eid holiday, a celebration that marks the end of Ramadan.

Most victims of the attack, which Turkish officials believe was carried out by the extremist Islamic State group, appear to be Muslim.

In a statement Wednesday, Madani also called for greater international cooperation to confront “terrorism by addressing its causes and various contexts.”


5 p.m.

Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in Turkey says six Saudi citizens were killed in the attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, raising the death toll from an earlier report.

The Saudi Ambassador to Turkey, Adel Murdad, told the state-owned al-Ekhbariya channel on Wednesday that 27 Saudis were wounded, one critically, while 11 have already been released from treatment.

Muslim-majority Turkey is a popular tourist destination for Arabs from the Gulf, particularly during the summer months. Tuesday’s attack also comes a week before the Eid holiday, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The Saudi government says it “condemns and rejects the terrorist attack”, which has been blamed on the Islamic State group. The kingdom has close ties with Turkey’s government.


4:45 p.m.

Turkey’s health minister says 41 people are still in intensive care after the guns-and-bombing attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.

Officials say 41 others have been killed and more than 240 were wounded in the attack Tuesday night.

Health Minister Recep Akdag says 128 of those wounded are still in the hospital.  The injured include people from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Switzerland. 


3:30 p.m.

Saudi Arabia’s state-owned news channel says four Saudi citizens were among the 41 people killed in the attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.

Al-Ekhbariya news channel was quoting its correspondent in Turkey on Wednesday, hours after reporting that at least seven Saudi nationals had been wounded in the attack.

The kingdom, which has close ties with Turkey’s government and is also a strong backer of Sunni rebels trying to oust Syria’s President Bashar Assad, says it “condemns and rejects the terrorist attack”, which has been blamed on the Islamic State group.

Muslim-majority Turkey is a popular tourist destination for Arabs from the Gulf, particularly during the summer months. Tuesday’s attack also comes a week before the Eid holiday, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.


3:00 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his telephone call to Turkey’s leader both expressed condolences for the Istanbul airport bombing, but also started a process of improving relations with the country.

Putin said Russia is lifting its ban on package tours to Turkey and he ordered ministers to begin other measures to restore relations.

Russian-Turkish relations deteriorated sharply last fall after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane at the Syrian border. Russia imposed an array of punitive measures, including banning most Turkish food imports and banning the sale of package tours to Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized for the warplane downing in a letter on Monday, the day before suicide bombers hit Istanbul’s main airport.

Putin told his cabinet that in the beginning of his Wednesday call with Erdogan, “I of course expressed the condolences to the president of the country and all the Turkish people in connection with the terrorist act.”


2:50 p.m.

Israel’s president has told his Turkish counterpart that their countries’ new reconciliation pact will help with joint efforts to combat attacks like the one at Istanbul airport.

In a condolence letter, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Israel is willing to help Turkey to recover from the attack, and to work together to thwart future attacks.

“I take this opportunity to welcome the chance to renew our good relationship especially because our strengthened dialogue will greatly aid in our joint efforts against this threat, and because it sends a strong message to the terrorists that we will stand untied against hatred,” Rivlin said in the letter.

Israel and Turkey have agreed to restore full diplomatic relations after six years of animosity between the once-close allies.


1:50 p.m.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the attacks on Ataturk airport in Istanbul that killed 41 people.

In a statement released to media Wednesday, the ministry says “we offer our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the bereaved families and to the brotherly people and government of Turkey” and that Pakistan reiterates its condemnation of terrorism “in all forms and manifestations”.


1:45 p.m.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says he is deeply saddened by the terrorist attack the previous night at the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul.

In a statement released Wednesday, Ghani says that “the people of Afghanistan feel the pain and suffering of the people of Turkey more than others, as we have been the victim of terrorism for years.”

Ghani added that he considers terrorism a great threat for the security of the region and the world, and reiterated that joint action by all countries is needed.


1:40 p.m.

The Palestinian ambassador to Turkey says a Palestinian woman was killed in the blasts at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport and six Palestinians were injured, including a 17-year-old girl from the Gaza Strip who suffered critical injuries.

Ambassador Faed Mustafa confirmed the death and injuries to Palestinian media Wednesday.

Nisreen Melhem, 28, from the West Bank town of Arraba, was killed and her 34-year-old husband and 3-year-old daughter were injured, according to Moath Hamed, a Palestinian journalism student visiting the family in the hospital.

The Palestinians were living and working in Saudi Arabia and had landed in Istanbul for vacation.


1:30 p.m.

Pope Francis has denounced the “brutal terrorist attack” at Istanbul’s airport and is calling for the killers behind it to change their ways.

In a noontime blessing from his studio window, Francis said he was praying for the victims, their families “and the dear Turkish people.” He asked the entire piazza to pray in silence and then led the crowd in the Hail Mary prayer.

He said: “May the Lord convert the hearts of the violent ones and support our efforts toward the path of peace.”


1:25 p.m.

The Istanbul Governor’s Office says 41 people have been killed in the deadly suicide bombing attack in Istanbul’s Ataturk airport blamed on the Islamic State group.

A statement on the governor’s website says 37 of the victims have been identified, including 10 foreign nationals and three people with dual citizenship. More than 230 people were wounded in the attack, but 109 have been discharged from hospitals.

A Turkish official who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government protocol says the death toll does not include three suicide bombers who died.

The Palestinian ambassador to Turkey says a Palestinian woman was among the dead. Separately, the Turkish official said five Saudis, two Iraqis, one Tunisian, an Uzbek, a Chinese, an Iranian, a Ukrainian and a Jordanian national were killed.


12:45 p.m.

Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen is “crying with the Turkish people who once again are witnesses to a cowardly terrorist attack.”

Nordic and Baltic governments condemned Wednesday the attack at Istanbul’s main airport that killed 36 people and wounded scores of others.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg tweeted her “thoughts are with those who lost their lives, the wounded and their loved ones.”

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics conveyed “his deepest sympathies” while Finland Prime Minister Juha Sipila sent his condolences to his Turkish counterpart, Binali Yildirim.

The region’s foreign ministries said there were no reports of Nordic or Baltic victims.


12:35 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered his condolences to Turkey which was hit by suicide attacks on Tuesday, killing dozens at Istanbul’s airport.

Following a statement in Moscow Putin is expected to offer his condolences in the telephone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, their first conversation in seven months after Russia froze its ties with Turkey in response to Turkey shooting down its military jet.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that the attacks at the Ataturk airport are “just another reminder of the importance of joint efforts to fight our common threat — terrorism.”


12:25 p.m.

Greece’s Foreign Ministry has expressed “rage and revulsion” over the attacks at Istanbul airport, condemning the suicide bomb attacks that claimed the lives of at least 36 people.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that a Greek consular team had gone to the airport immediately after the blasts to provide assistance to Greek citizens to ensure they were transported safely to hotels in the city, and the Greek Consulate in Istanbul was working to help repatriate citizens. The ministry said there were no indications that any Greeks were among the casualties of the attacks.

Istanbul has a resident Greek community and is also a popular destination for visiting Greek tourists.


11:40 a.m.

Turkish officials say an Iranian and a Ukrainian are among victims of Istanbul airport attack.

Tuesday’s attack at the city’s main Ataturk Airport killed 36 people and wounded scores of others. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the Islamic State group was behind the attack. He said three suicide bombers attacked the airport with automatic weapon fire before blowing themselves up.


11:05 a.m.

France’s foreign minister has condemned the attack on Istanbul’s airport as “odious and cowardly.”

Offering condolences, Jean-Marc Ayrault assured that France “is at Turkey’s side in the fight against terrorism.”

As usual in such circumstances, France opened a crisis cell to maintain close contact with Turkish authorities, and provides any needed instructions to the French community there.

Ayrault counseled prudence to French people in Turkey, a prime destination for French tourists.


10:55 a.m.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, whose plane landed in Istanbul minutes after the attacks on Istanbul’s airport, has expressed his condolences to the victims.

Rama said in a message on Twitter that 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.”

Rama, Finance Minister Arben Ahmetaj and a delegation on Wednesday are on an official visit to Turkey. Rama said all of the planned meetings would go ahead.


10:25 a.m.

Turkish officials say Istanbul’s busy Ataturk International Airport has reopened, hours after three suicide bombers killed 36 and wounded 147.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters that air traffic returned to normal and “Our airport has been opened to flights and departures from 02:20 (local time) on,” in a press statement at the airport early Wednesday morning.

Turkish Airline’s website says “flight operations have been restarted” and instructs passengers to monitor actual flight information.


9:45 a.m.

Germany’s top security official is condemning the attack on Istanbul’s airport as “cowardly and brutal.”

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said his thoughts were with the victims and their families, and vowed that “we will continue our fight against terrorism together with our allies with full force.”

De Maiziere said in a statement Wednesday he was “deeply shocked by the cowardly and brutal attack on Istanbul’s airport.”

He says “terrorism has once again shown its ugly face and innocent people have lost their lives.”


9:30 a.m.

NATO’s chief has strongly condemned the “horrific attacks” at Istanbul’s airport, and said Turkey’s 27 allies in the U.S-led political and military organization stand with it.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, said in a statement: “My thoughts are with the families of the victims, those injured and the people of Turkey.

“There can be no justification for terrorism,” Stoltenberg said. “NATO Allies stand in solidarity with Turkey, united in our determination to fight terrorism in all its forms.”


8:00 a.m.

Officials on Wednesday morning began assessing the damage caused at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport by three suicide bombers who killed dozens and wounded more than 140.

Workers were brought in to remove debris left by the blast, while in the daylight the damage to the terminal became clearer with even ceiling panels hit.

The airport was partially reopened, with the information board inside the airport showing that about one third of scheduled flights have been canceled, with a host of others delayed.


5 a.m.

A stoppage of flights to and from the United States and Istanbul Ataturk Airport lasted several hours but has been lifted, said a U.S. official who spoke on background to discuss sensitive security issues. The official said the stoppage was lifted in the middle of the evening.

The official says 10 passenger flights were in the air, flying from Turkey to the U.S., at the time of the stoppage and they have all landed. However, cargo planes and corporate jets in the U.S. would have been most affected by the stoppage. The official says the decision on lifting the stoppage was made in coordination with the Transportation Security Administration.


Associated Press writer Will Lester in Washington.


2:45 a.m.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the United States condemns in the strongest terms possible the attacks at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport that killed at least 31 people and left dozens more wounded.

Earnest says the Istanbul airport, like the Brussels airport that was attacked earlier this year, is a symbol of international connections and the ties that bind nations together.

He says the U.S. sends its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.


2:35 a.m.

Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag says at least 31 people have been killed and some 147 wounded in the attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.


1:40 a.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has released a statement condemning the attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, which took place during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He says the attack “shows that terrorism strikes with no regard to faith and values.”

He has called on the international community to take a firm stand against terrorism and vowed to keep up Turkey’s struggle against terror groups.

Erdogan says “Turkey has the power, determination and capacity to continue the fight against terrorism until the end.”


12:55 a.m.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has condemned the attacks on Ataturk airport in Istanbul that have killed at least 28 people.

He says on the sidelines of an ecumenical Iftar dinner in Berlin that he’s shocked by the news.

He says the background of the attacks is still unclear, “but everything suggests that terrorists have once again hit the Turkish metropolis.

“We grieve for the victims and with the relatives. We stand by Turkey.”


12:40 a.m.

Hundreds of passengers are flooding out of Istanbul’s Ataturk airport after an attack that killed at least 28 people.

Twelve-year-old Hevin Zini had just arrived from Dusseldorf with her family and was in tears from the shock.

She tells The Associated Press that there was blood on the ground and everything was blown up to bits.

South African Judy Favish, who spent two days in Istanbul as a layover on her way home from Dublin, had just checked in when she heard an explosion followed by gunfire and a loud bang.

She says she hid under the counter for some time.

Favish says passengers were ushered to a cafeteria at the basement level where they were kept for more than an hour before being allowed outside.


12:15 a.m.

Turkey’s NTV television is quoting Istanbul’s governor as saying 28 people were killed in the attack at the city’s airport and some 60 people wounded.

Governor Vasip Sahin also told the channel that three suicide bombers carried out the attack Tuesday.

Officials had previously said one or two attackers had blown themselves up at the entrance to the international terminal at the airport after police fired at them.


12:10 a.m.

Hundreds of passengers are spilling out of Istanbul’s Ataturk airport with their suitcases in hand or stacked onto trolleys after two explosions killed at least 10 people.

Others are sitting on the grass, their bodies lit by the flashing lights of ambulances and police cars, which are the only kind of vehicles allowed to reach the airport.

Two South African tourists, Paul and Susie Roos from Cape Town, were at the airport and due to fly home at the time of the explosions Tuesday. They were shaken by what they witnessed.

Paul said: “We came up from the arrivals to the departures, up the escalator when we heard these shots going off.”

He added: “There was this guy going roaming around, he was dressed in black and he had a hand gun.”

comments powered by Disqus