ISTANBUL: Just two days after triple suicide bombings, Istanbul’s main international airport is as usual a hive of activity — but with passengers snapping selfies in front of bullet-shattered windows.
Staff at Ataturk airport are trying to pick up the pieces after Tuesday night’s attack, which left 44 people dead at one of Europe’s busiest hubs.
“I don’t know how, but only hours after the explosions, the deaths and the injuries, flights were able to run normally again,” one tourism executive at the airport told AFP.
There were few visible signs of extra security at Ataturk on Thursday, though Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has promised “specially-trained” staff will be added at the nation’s airports.
In some respects it could be any other day, between the long check-in queues and the hubbub of passengers chatting in Arabic, Portuguese and French.
But these conversations take place besides smashed windows and under a ceiling missing tiles that crashed down during one of the blasts.
Some passengers have their photos taken in front of this grim new decor, as workers try to repair the damage as best they can.
Passengers must pass through security scanners to enter the arrival and departure halls — but at the exit gates, an AFP reporter saw only a guard armed with a baton.
It was at one of these exits that an attacker was able to penetrate the building before blowing himself up, according to several witnesses.
An airport guard said another bomber “went through the security barrier shooting at the guards”.
“The terrorists were wearing big black coats and their guns were hidden under them,” said taxi driver Akin Duman.
“It was very hot — it was their clothing that gave them away.”
‘God saved me’
The prime minister has said the attackers arrived with automatic rifles hidden in suitcases and shot their way inside.
Nazife Yurtcu, who lives in Germany, flew back to Istanbul on Thursday to visit family in spite of security worries.
“Given the suicide bombers were able to get inside the airport with guns and bombs, I was reassured to see more police at the entrances and exits,” she said.
But one guard at Ataturk, who was working when the bombers struck, expressed doubt the promised extra security staff would ever arrive.
“Nothing will change,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“What happened reflects the state of Turkey,” he added, as he nervously scanned his surroundings.
In front of a shattered window, meanwhile, a Kurdish car-hire worker counted his blessings that he was away at the time of the attacks, breaking the Ramadan fast.
“It was God that saved me,” said the man in his thirties.
He expressed little confidence in the AKP government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to fight the Islamic State group jihadists who have been blamed for the attack.
“It’s no secret that the AKP prefers to concentrate on fighting the Kurds rather than attacking the real terrorists,” he said.