ISTANBUL – A South African man described seeing one of the Turkey attackers “randomly shooting” in the departures hall of Istanbul’s main international airport.
“He was just firing at anyone coming in front of him. He was wearing all black.
“His face was not masked. I was 50 metres away from him,” said Paul Roos (77).
Roos and his wife were returning to Cape Town after a holiday in southern Turkey.
“We ducked behind a counter but I stood up and watched him. Two explosions went off shortly after one another.
“By that time he had stopped shooting,” Roos told Reuters.
“He turned around and started coming towards us. He was holding his gun inside his jacket.
“He looked around anxiously to see if anyone was going to stop him and then went down the escalator.
“We heard some more gunfire and then another explosion, and then it was over.”
Three suicide bombers opened fire then blew themselves up in the airport on Tuesday, killing 36 people and wounding close to 150 in what Turkey’s prime minister said appeared to have been an attack by Islamic State militants.
One attacker opened fire in the departures hall with an automatic rifle, sending passengers diving for cover and trying to flee, before all three blew themselves up in or around the arrivals hall a floor below, witnesses and officials said.
The attack on Europe’s third-busiest airport is one of the deadliest in a series of suicide bombings in Turkey, which is struggling to contain the spillover from neighbouring Syria’s civil war and battling an insurgency by Kurdish militants in its southeast.
Police fired shots to try to stop two of the attackers just before they reached a security checkpoint at the arrivals hall, but they detonated their explosives, a Turkish official said.