ISTANBUL, Turkey — The Istanbul Governor’s Office says the death toll in Tuesday night’s airport suicide bombing is now up to 41. Thirty-seven of the victims have been identified, according to the statement posted on the governor’s website.
The death toll includes 10 foreign nationals and 3 holding dual citizenships. Tuesday’s attack left 239 people wounded but 109 have been discharged, according to the same source.
Turkey’s Prime Minister says the death toll might rise to 50 or higher due to the nature of some victims’ injuries.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim calls the attack on Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport a planned act of Islamic State terrorism. Yildirim adds preliminary findings point to the Islamic State although no group has claimed responsibility yet.
Security personnel say at around 9:30 p.m. local time Tuesday evening, three men got out of taxis at Istanbul Atatürk International Airport, the third busiest in Europe and the 11th busiest in the world.
Details are still murky on exactly how the attack was carried out, but so far authorities believe the men split up, two going to the arrivals gates and one going to the departures gates.
Witnesses say Turkish authorities quickly confronted the men before they could reach security check points while at the same time shepherding bystanders away from the area.
At one security area, witnesses say they saw one airport guard tackle one of the shooters. At that point, they say the attacker detonated his suicide vest.
The officer who sacrificed himself has not been identified. The other two attackers were involved in a fire fight with guards before detonating their suicide vests.
A U.S. counterterrorism official who wished to remain anonymous says using suicide bombers against “soft” targets, in other words locations with light military presence and high concentration of civilians, fits the Islamic State’s patterns of attack. This person also says nearby Kurdish militants are also a suspect, but they generally attack official government targets.