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Niinistö, Soini send condolences after Istanbul suicide attack

Foreign minister condemns “terrible act of terrorism” in which at least 41 were killed and some 240 wounded at busy Atatürk airport late Tuesday. The dead include at least 13 foreigners, but apparently no Finns.

Poliisi tutki räjähdyspaikkaa Atatürk-lentokentällä myöhään tiistaina. Image: Sedat Suna / EPA

Finland’s foreign minister, Timo Soini, has sent a letter of condolences to his Turkish counterpart following a triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s main airport.

President Sauli Niinistö's office also issued a statement on Wednesday, saying that the bombings showed the desperate need for more cooperation against the terrorist threat.

As world leaders lined up to express solidarity with Turkey over latest in a string of attacks in the country’s capital, Soini said he “strongly condemns the terrible act of terrorism” in which 36 people are so far confirmed to have been killed.

Three suicide bombers opened fire inside Atatürk airport – the third busiest in Europe – on Tuesday evening, before blowing themselves up. Close to 150 people were wounded. Turkey’s prime minister said Islamic State militants were most likely to blame for the attack.

Panic inside terminal

Finnish aid worker Rami Adham described scenes of chaos inside the airport building as the attacks went on. Adham said he was asleep at the airport’s departure terminal on Tuesday evening when the blasts were detonated in the arrivals hall on the floor below.

“I heard a huge explosion, followed by alarms going off and announcements to evacuate. Then there was a second blast,” Adham said, adding that he believed at first that he was dreaming.

Adham, who was returning from a humanitarian mission to Aleppo, his hometown before he came to Finland three decades ago, said that travellers were running around in panic before staff began directing thousands of people out of the building to safety.

”Outside I spoke with a few Turkish people, who told me that there had been gunshots before the bomb blasts. I also heard that it was a terrorist attack,” he said.

Victims' nationalities unconfirmed

Finland’s foreign ministry tweeted on Wednesday morning that all known Finnish citizens in the area have been accounted for, and that no Finns are believed to be among the victims. However the nationalities of those killed have not yet been confirmed, the ministry said, adding that it is following the situation.

Flights between Helsinki and Atatürk airport have not been cancelled as a result of the bombings, according to Finland’s airports operator Finavia. Following the attacks, US aviation authorities temporarily suspended all flights to the Turkish capital, although Istanbul airport announced early on Wednesday morning that it has reopened to air traffic.