Suicide attackers armed with guns and bombs killed more than 40 people and wounded hundreds at Istanbul’s busy Ataturk Airport Wednesday, apparently targeting Turkey’s crucial tourism industry. Turkish state media say 13 suspects detained over airport attack, including 3 foreign nationals. Details are emerging about some of the victims.
Four members of one family have been confirmed as being among the Saudi nationals killed in the airport attack. Saudi authorities identified them as Kerime, Meryem, Zehra and Huda Amiri. A fifth Saudi, Taher Misfir H. Almalki, also died.
The Saudi ambassador to Turkey, Adel Mirdad, said a total of six Saudis died, and five remain missing.
Col. Fathi Bayoudth was struck down by the attacks while apparently attending to family business.
Quoting security sources in Tunis and Ankara, the Tunisian publication Business News said the Tunisian military doctor was in Istanbul to meet his son who had joined the Islamic State extremist group in Syria and had been seen in the conflict zone.
His family, with the help of Tunisian intelligence, convinced him to leave the group and return home via Istanbul, said the publication. The son, in his 20s, was arrested by Turkish authorities for extradition to Tunis, it reported.
The Tunisian Foreign Ministry confirmed the death of Bayoudh, head of the pediatric service at the Tunis military hospital. But officials would not elaborate, saying details were personal and additional information had to come from the family.
Murat Gulluce adored his four daughters, referring to them as his “princesses” on social media. Now, they are fatherless.
Critically wounded in the attack, Gulluce was rushed to a hospital but doctors were unable to save him.
Writing of the loss on Facebook, his sister, Ayse Nur Gulluce Cakar, described him as “my dear older brother whom I used to refer to as father… I cannot endure such pain.”
Originally from the eastern province of Erzurum, Gulluce had moved to Istanbul and worked as a jeweler. Later, he travelled to Uzbekistan where he started a greenhouse cultivation business. Dissatisfied with his work abroad, he returned to Istanbul and began working as a hotel manager. On Tuesday night he had arrived at the airport to fly to Uzbekistan.
Muhammed Eymen Demirci, 25, felt fortunate to have finally found work so he could help pay for his two younger sisters’ education.
Hoping to one day become a cabin steward, Demirci graduated from Istanbul University’s Public Relations Department but was unable to find any employment for over a year. He was ecstatic to finally be hired by the airport’s ground services in May, texting his friends “I got the job bro!”
But on Tuesday night, while waiting for the bus to take him home after his shift, Demirci was killed by one of the suicide bombs.
Childhood friend Deniz Dogan had helped Demirci prepare for the job exam and reassured him throughout the process. “He was such a friendly person, a man who fought for his ideals,” Dogan told the AP, “Now I wish he hadn’t gotten the job.”
A black belt in taekwondo and an excellent football player, Demirci’s loved ones noted he was as passionate about sports as he was about life and work. His funeral took place on Wednesday in Istanbul’s Basakshir neighborhood.
Nisreen Melhim, 28, had just arrived in Istanbul and was looking forward to a few days of vacation with her husband and their 3-year-old daughter. The couple worked in Saudi Arabia and planned to relax in the city before flying to Palestine for Ramadan. They were caught up in the terror attacks shortly after the family left the arrivals terminal and was heading toward the taxi stand.
“We heard shooting from a distance,” said Marvan, Nisreen’s husband. “The explosion went off. I found my wife bleeding and my daughter too.”
Nisreen died in hospital shortly afterward, leaving her husband shocked and mourning. “The ones who did this are brutal criminals,” he said. “How come they kill innocent people?”
Ukrainian Larisa Tsybakova, 46 was at the airport together with her husband, according to the Ukrainian consul in Istanbul, Vasyl Bodnar. Bodnar said she died of blood loss after receiving a leg wound, but provided no other details.
Ukrainian news reports said that Tsybakova, a resident of the Black Sea port of Odessa, was making a vacation trip to Turkey with her husband and son.
In her own words, Gulsen Bahadir, 28, was a lover not a fighter.
Last week she had written on Facebook, “Never in my life have I fought, never. Not for the things I wanted, not for myself, not for my loved ones, not for the things life has denied me, not for when I faced injustice. I made this choice not because I lacked the strength but because I chose not to. Instead I chose to resist, because I do not believe fighting yields any results. There are no winners in war, only losers. They are the only ones that remain, the only ones that are remembered.”
An employee at Ataturk International Airport, Bahadir was killed during Tuesday’s deadly suicide attack. Critically wounded by a bullet, she was rushed to the hospital but doctors were unable to save her.
She was an only child. Her mother Fahriye Bahadir was in tears during her daughter’s funeral on Wednesday: “What has my daughter done to them?”
Serkan Turk, 24, fell to the second explosion while helping the victims of the first blast, the Turkish daily Yeni Akit reported.
Hakan Dagdeviren, a friend and head of the Justice and Development Party youth branch said Turk was a hardworking man who was full of life.
“Serkan was a good person,” he said. “From what I’ve learned he had rushed to the site of the first explosion to help the wounded. He died in the second explosion,” Dagdeviren told Yeni Akit.
Asst. Prof. Ilhan Toksoz of Trakya University said Turk “was a young man who loved his country and was full of life.” Turk graduated last year from the university’s physical education and sports college.
Merve Yigit, 22, had been working in catering at the airport. She died in an Istanbul hospital on Wednesday evening, a day after the attack, becoming the 42nd victim. She had been treated for injuries caused by shrapnel that pierced her abdomen, stomach and head.