Northern Ireland news

Holidaymakers warned further attacks are likely in Turkey

Family members of victims outside Bakirkoy State Hospital in Istanbul on Wednesday. Picture by Omer Kuscu
Gareth McKeown

Holidaymakers travelling to Turkey have been warned that “further attacks are likely” following the massacre at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.

More than 40 people were killed and almost 250 injured when suicide bombers targeted the busy airport on Tuesday evening.

Three attackers arrived in a taxi and opened fire with guns before blowing themselves up when shot by police.

A national day of mourning was declared yesterday.

It was at least the eighth bomb attack in Turkey in six months and both Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs have warned the threat from terrorism in the country remains high.

The FCO said groups including Isis and the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) have publicly threatened to attack tourist sites.

It has advised against all travel to within 10km of the border with Syria and to the city of Diyarbakir.

The Dublin government said that while areas popular with Irish travellers are a substantial distance from the regions of unrest, vigilance is required in tourist areas such as Taksim Square in Istanbul and close to police and military installations.

“Irish citizens in Turkey or those intending to travel should exercise vigilance, avoid large public gatherings and all demonstrations and follow the instructions and advice of the local authorities. We also urge caution if using public transport, in particular the metro systems in Istanbul and Ankara.

"Terrorist attacks are, by their nature, random and indiscriminate and cannot be predicted in advance. You are advised to remain vigilant, particularly in public places that are frequented by foreigners."

One traveller, Ian Doherty from the Waterside in Derry, said yesterday he was due to fly with a large group to Gumbet in the west of Turkey as part of 50th birthday celebrations, but all have cancelled their planned trip.

Mr Doherty said he was "not taking a chance", saying it was "too risky" in light of recent events.

However, Delia Aston of independent travel agency Clubworld Travel last night said none of its customers had cancelled holidays.

She said Istanbul is a popular destination in Northern Ireland for city breaks and is used as a connection for Singapore and South Africa as well a pick up point for cruise holidays.

“We've had a lot of calls, people have been anxious, but everyone is delighted the airport is now up and running, there's a few delays, but that's it, " she said.

“These things happen unfortunately, there isn't a pattern, but they've got great support from the trade in Ireland both north and south."

Turkish Airlines, who operate the only direct service to Istanbul from Ireland, via Dublin, have given passengers the option to cancel or change flights departing up to July 5 free of charge.

Yesterday flights to and from Ataturk International Airport were resuming gradually, with people advised to speak to their travel company or airline for information about travel to and from Istanbul.

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