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Istanbul bombers' airport attack tactics detailed

Istanbul Attack Analysis
Turkey: ISIS is likely responsible for Istanbul attack 04:13

ISTANBUL - Turkish officials offered details of an apparently carefully premeditated attack on the country's largest airport on Tuesday, as world leaders united in condemning the violence at the major international travel hub.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Wednesday one of the attackers at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport blew himself up outside, giving the other two the opportunity to get inside the building.

Officials say 42 were killed and more than 230 were wounded in the attack Tuesday night. The toll excludes the three bombers.

"When the terrorists couldn't pass the regular security system, when they couldn't pass the scanners, police and security controls, they returned and took out their weapons out of their suitcases and opened fire at random at the security check," he said Wednesday.

"One blew himself up outside and the other two took advantage of the panic created during the shoot out and got inside and blew themselves up," Yildirim continued.

An interior ministry official and another official said all three assailants arrived by taxi at the level of the arrivals hall terminal.

The first assailant entered the terminal, opened fire and then blew himself up near the X-ray machines, according to the officials.

During the chaos, the second attacker went upstairs to the departures level and blew himself up.

The third attacker waited outside during the whole episode and detonated his explosives last as people flooded out of the airport in a panic. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government protocol.

Airport surveillance video posted on social media appeared to show one explosion, a ball of fire that sent terrified passengers racing for safety. Another appeared to show an attacker, felled by a gunshot from a security officer, blowing himself up seconds later. A growing stream of travelers, some rolling suitcases behind them, fled down a corridor, looking fearfully over their shoulders.

What was intel before Istanbul airport attack? 04:24

Turkish officials have blamed the attack on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS.)

Yildirim said in a televised speech: "Our thought that it is Daesh (ISIS) continues to gain weight."

Moments earlier, Interior Minister Efkan Ala, said early indications point to ISIS but there was no conclusive information. He also said authorities believe that the attackers were foreign nationals, but that the investigation was ongoing.

"Every connection is being evaluated carefully," Ala said.

CIA Director John Brennan said the attack "bears the hallmarks" of the ISIS' "depravity."

Brennan spoke Wednesday at the Council on Foreign Relations. Earlier this month, Brennan told Congress that the U.S. battle against ISIS has not yet curbed the group's global reach and that they are expected to plot more attacks on the West and incite violence by lone wolves. He said ISIS has a large cadre of Western fighters who could attack the West.

Turkey's health minister said Wednesday 41 people are still in intensive care after the guns-and-bombing attack on Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.

Why John Kerry says airport bombing is sign ISIS is diminishing 07:53

Health Minister Recep Akdag said 128 of those wounded are still in the hospital. The injured include people from, among other places, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Switzerland. The U.S. State Department said it is not aware of any Americans killed or seriously hurt in the attack.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will overcome terror groups, including Kurdish rebels and ISIS, which have intensified their attacks.

Speaking at a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner Wednesday Erdogan said the terror organizations were trying to impede Turkey's ambitions, including becoming one of the world's 10 strongest economies and building the world's largest airport.

Erdogan said: "Neither the PKK, the DHKP-C, nor Daesh ... will succeed in deterring Turkey from its goals." He was referring in turn to the Kurdish rebels, an outlawed leftist militant group, as well an the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

The Turkish leader also said the airport attackers were "not Muslims" and "have prepared their place in hell."

Erdogan thanked world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, for calling to offer their condolences.

Workers were brought in Wednesday to remove debris left by the blast, while in the daylight the damage to the terminal became clearer with even ceiling panels hit.

The airport was partially reopened, with the information board inside the airport showing that about one third of scheduled flights have been canceled, with a host of others delayed.

A stoppage of flights to and from the United States and Istanbul Ataturk Airport lasted several hours but has been lifted, said a U.S. official who spoke on background to discuss sensitive security issues. The official said the stoppage was lifted in the middle of the evening.

The official says 10 passenger flights were in the air, flying from Turkey to the U.S., at the time of the stoppage and they have all landed. However, cargo planes and corporate jets in the U.S. would have been most affected by the stoppage. The official says the decision on lifting the stoppage was made in coordination with the Transportation Security Administration.

President Obama's trip overshadowed by Istanbul airport bombings 02:01

President Obama joined dozens of world leaders in condemning the attacks.

Mr. Obama said he called Erdogan to "to discuss with him not only how heartbroken we have been by the images of the injured and those killed, but also to reaffirm our strong commitment to partner with Turkey, with NATO, with the broad-based alliance that we have structured around the world to fight [ISIS]."

Although the president stopped short of outright blaming ISIS for the attack, he linked it to a broader problem.

"We're still learning all the facts, but we know this is part of our broader shared fight against terrorist networks," Obama said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he also called Erdogan, and expressed condolences for the Istanbul airport bombing, but also started a process of improving relations with the country.

Putin said Russia is lifting its ban on package tours to Turkey and he ordered ministers to begin other measures to restore relations.

Russian-Turkish relations deteriorated sharply last fall after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane at the Syrian border. Russia imposed an array of punitive measures, including banning most Turkish food imports and banning the sale of package tours to Turkey.

Erdogan apologized for the warplane downing in a letter on Monday, the day before suicide bombers hit Istanbul's main airport. Putin told his cabinet that in the beginning of his Wednesday call with Erdogan, "I of course expressed the condolences to the president of the country and all the Turkish people in connection with the terrorist act."

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