ISTANBUL, Turkey, June 28 (UPI) — The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday afternoon suspended all American flights to and from Atatürk International Airport in Turkey’s capital after an attack there killed more than two dozen people and wounded many others.
The airport was rocked by gunfire and bomb explosions in what appeared to be a coordinated militant attack, witnesses and authorities said.
Officials said at least 28 people were killed in the attack, but did not have exact numbers on wounded victims. Turkish media reported around 60 injured — a few seriously.
Video: CBS News
“I was going from the domestic to the international terminal, then there was suddenly a fireball and I saw people covered in blood,” a taxi cab driver said.
Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, who said he knew which terror group was responsible, noted that one attacker fired an AK-47 assault rifle at people near him before detonating a suicide vest.
A senior Turkish official and Istanbul governor Vasip Şahin said three suicide bombers launched the attack near a security checkpoint in the international terminal, The Guardian reported.
Atatürk airport, Turkey’s largest, was locked down in the aftermath of the attack as police investigated and incoming flights were diverted.
“I harshly condemn those who executed this terrorist attack, and those who gave the orders for it,” Bozdag said.
Outside Attaturk airport, a lot of stranded and bewildered travelers pic.twitter.com/9mPa0W5FXA
— Jared Malsin (@jmalsin) June 28, 2016
Tuesday afternoon, the FAA issued ground stop orders on all U.S. flights to and from Atatürk, various news media reported — a routine action taken in locations that pose a specific threat to American travelers’ safety.
In March, the U.S. Department of State advised American travelers to exercise caution in Turkey due to heightened threats. The department reiterated that warning just Monday.
With a largely Muslim population, Turkey is often targeted by militant groups. In December, one person was killed in an attack on a different Istanbul airport and several more died earlier this month in a bombing carried out by Kurdish militants.
Increased militant activity is also scaring tourists away. The nation saw a substantial drop in tourists for May, officials said, which was the biggest visitor slump on record, Bloomberg reported.