Updated: Explosions rip through Istanbul airport, with 41 killed and a further 239 injured

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THE Istanbul Governor’s Office said 41 people had been killed in the attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport and initial indications were that the Islamic State group was behind the atrocity.

Earlier the city’s governor said twenty-eight people have been killed and 60 injured in an attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.

Vasip Sahin also told Turkey’s NTV television that three suicide bombers carried out an attack, blowing themselves up at the entrance to the international terminal at the airport after police fired at them.

Turkish justice minister Bekir Bozdag said that according to preliminary information, “a terrorist at the international terminal entrance first opened fire with a Kalashnikov and then blew himself up”.

Another official said two attackers detonated explosives at the entrance of the international terminal after police fired at them. It has now been confirmed there were three attackers.

The official said the attackers blew themselves up before entering the X-ray security check at the airport entrance.

Turkish rescue services gather outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport after two explosions killed several people and wounded scores of others, Turkey's justice minister and another official said. A Turkish official says two attackers have blown themselves up at the airport after police fired at them. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Turkish rescue services gather outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport after two explosions killed several people and wounded scores of others, Turkey's justice minister and another official said. A Turkish official says two attackers have blown themselves up at the airport after police fired at them. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Turkish airports have security checks both at the entrance of terminal buildings and then later before entry to departure gates.

Eye witness Ercan Ceyhan told CNN-Turk that he saw some 30 ambulances enter the airport.

The private DHA news agency said the wounded, among them police officers, were being transferred to Bakirkoy State Hospital.

Turkey has suffered several bombings in recent months linked to Kurdish or Islamic State militants.

Medics and security members work at the entrance of the Ataturk Airport after explosions in Istanbul.

Medics and security members work at the entrance of the Ataturk Airport after explosions in Istanbul.

The bombings included two in Istanbul targeting tourists - which the authorities have blamed on Islamic State.

The attacks have increased in scale and frequency, scaring off tourists and hurting the economy, which relies heavily on tourism revenues.

British Airways passengers on flight BA680 from London Heathrow to Ataturk were returned to the UK in the wake of the blasts.

The flight had been due to land at around 11.40pm local time (9.40pm BST), shortly after the explosions.

Two explosions have rocked Istanbul's Ataturk airport, killing at least 10 people and wounding around 20 others, Turkey's justice minister and another official said Tuesday.  (DHA via AP)

Two explosions have rocked Istanbul's Ataturk airport, killing at least 10 people and wounding around 20 others, Turkey's justice minister and another official said Tuesday. (DHA via AP)

A BA spokesman said: “We had one flight to Ataturk airport that has turned around and is coming back to London Gatwick.

“We don’t have any other services scheduled today and we will keep the situation under review.”

The United States government had issued updated travel advice to Americans the day before the attack urging them not to travel to parts of the country because of the terror threat.

It said: “The US State Department warns US citizens of increased threat from terrorist groups throughout Turkey and to avoid travel to South Eastern Turkey.”

Foreign Office officials have said they are “urgently seeking further information” following explosions at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, in which at least 10 people are believed to have been killed and dozens of others injured.

Reports from Turkey suggested up to three attackers detonated the explosives at the entrance of the international terminal before breaching the X-ray security check and opening fire.

An injured person sits in an ambulance outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport.

An injured person sits in an ambulance outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport.

Police are believed to have returned fire in an attempt to minimise the number of casualties.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are in close contact with authorities in Istanbul and urgently seeking further information following an incident at Ataturk Airport.

“Our staff in Istanbul and London stand ready to support any British nationals affected.”

A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) said: “Following an incident at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, travellers to Istanbul are advised to follow the advice of the local authorities and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“The Foreign Office currently advises that British tourists visiting Turkey should avoid demonstrations or large gatherings and remain vigilant.”

Latest reports said 60 people were wounded at the airport.

British Airways passengers on flight BA680 from London Heathrow to Ataturk were returned to the UK in the wake of the blasts.

The flight had been due to land at around 11.40pm local time (9.40pm BST), shortly after the explosions.

A BA spokesman said: “We had one flight to Ataturk airport that has turned around and is coming back to London Gatwick.

“We don’t have any other services scheduled today and we will keep the situation under review.”

BBC correspondent Mark Lowen, speaking from a grounded plane on the Ataturk runway, told the BBC: “We are being kept on board the plane and not being allowed to disembark because of what’s happening inside the airport.

“We are not being told when we will be allowed to leave the aircraft, of course.

“I have lived here for two years and often thought coming into this airport it is a potentially vulnerable place and an attack could take place here because cars are not searched very often coming into the airport area.

“That said, as you come into the terminal building there are X-ray machines and scanners.”

Turkey has suffered several deadly attacks in recent months which have been blamed on Kurdish separatists or the Islamic State (IS) group.

Several of the bombings targeted areas popular with tourists while another attack on a military barracks in Ankara killed 28 people.

The latest attack comes just months after Brussels was hit by suicide bombings at the airport and on the Metro.

IS claimed responsibility for the attacks, on March 22, which killed 32 and wounded another 270.

Prime Minister David Cameron described the terrorist attack as “hideous”.

Mr Cameron, in Brussels for what is likely to be his final EU summit meeting with fellow leaders, said the UK would continue to work with the other countries after Brexit on “keeping our countries safe, keeping our people safe - and it’s particularly important to say that tonight again when there has been another hideous terrorist attack in Turkey”.

Turkish rescue services gather outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport.

Turkish rescue services gather outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport.

Image taken from DHA TV, a police cordon is set up outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport. (DHA TV via AP) TURKEY OUT.

Image taken from DHA TV, a police cordon is set up outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport. (DHA TV via AP) TURKEY OUT.

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