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Three Suicide Bombs, Gunfire Rock Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport; Many Killed, Dozens of Injuries

Istanbul_Atatürk_AirportThree explosions rocked the departures area of the international terminal of Istanbul’s Ataturk airport Tuesday night, resulting in 36 deaths and more than 140 injuries. The death toll is expected to rise.

Turkish police reportedly exchanged gunfire with three attackers armed with Kalashnikovs in an effort to neutralize them. During the gunfight, the attackers blew themselves up, according to a Turkish official.

It was originally reported that there were only two explosions and two attackers; that number was revised to three.

Several reports noted that Ataturk has stringent security protocols: passengers must go through security multiple times. The exchange of gunfire occurred outside the initial security permitter that surrounds the airport entrance. It occurred around 10 p.m. local time.

Ataturk is the largest airport in Turkey, the third largest in Europe, and a major hub for Turkish Airlines. According to statistics compiled by Airports Council International, Ataturk was the 11th busiest airport worldwide in terms of the total number of passengers in 2015.

The U.S. Department of State had just issued on Monday a travel warning to Americans traveling to Turkey. Among the safety precautions prescribed, the warning advised Americans to “avoid travel to southeastern Turkey, particularly near the Syrian border” and to “stay away from large crowds, including at popular tourist destinations.”

Videos appeared on Twitter and Instagram, apparently of passengers taking shelter in the airport:

UPDATED — 29 June 2016 7:28 a.m. ET: NBC News is reporting that the numbers of deceased and injured have both risen since last night:

UPDATED — 29 June 2016 9:24 a.m. ET: One of the attackers was caught on video just as he detonated his suicide bomb.

This story has been, and will continue to be, updated.

[file photo above via Wikicommons]

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