Turkey remembers Istanbul airport attack blamed on ISIL
ISTANBUL - Agence France-PresseTurkey on June 28 marked one year since the triple suicide bombing and gun attack on the main international airport in Istanbul that left dozens dead and was blamed on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadists.
Late in the evening on June 28, 2016, three attackers shot randomly at passengers and staff at Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport before blowing themselves up.
Some 45 people were killed, in what is the deadliest attack on an airport in the country’s history.
At a ceremony just outside the arrivals hall of the airport, weeping relatives of those killed laid flowers by a black memorial where all the victims’ names are inscribed.
Some wept as they touched the inscriptions bearing the names of those they lost, an AFP photographer said.
“We remember with respect, we will never forget,” read a ribbon on a memorial wreath.
The government blamed ISIL - who at the time were holding swathes of neighbouring Iraq and Syria - although the jihadists never issued a claim for the attack.
The attack also heralded a summer of bloodshed in Turkey including the July 15 failed coup attempt blamed on the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. He denies the charges.
After the airport attack, authorities arrested 42 suspects, with four more still on the run. Those held, including suspects from Russia, Algeria and Turkey, are due to go on trial on Nov. 13.
The authorities have said a large number of those linked to the attack are from ex-Soviet Central Asia or Russia’s mainly Muslim northern Caucasus region.
Two suicide bombers were identified as Vadim Osmanov and Rakhim Bulgarov, although the third was never named.
Later in the summer, 57 people, 34 of them children, were killed in a suicide bombing at a street wedding in the southeastern province of Gaziantep, which was also blamed on the jihadist group.
And on New Year’s night, 39 people were killed, mainly foreigners, in a jihadist gun attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul just 75 minutes into 2017.
ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, the first clear claim it ever issued for any attack in Turkey.
The Uzbek gunman who carried out the Reina attack, Abdulgadir Masharipov, was detained by authorities after 17 days on the run and is set to go on trial along with alleged accomplices on Dec. 11.
The capture of Masharipov was seen as a major success for the security forces and raised hope that his interrogation may allow police to garner crucial intelligence about ISIL cells.