COUNTY NEWS: West Sussex man arrived in Istanbul as deadly terrorist attack erupted

A West Sussex man has told how locals in bomb-hit Istanbul have been left '˜weary' after last night's deadly terrorist attack on the Turkish city.

Wednesday, 29th June 2016, 4:26 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 2:24 am
Delays continue following the serious collision

A gun and bomb attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport left 41 people dead and more than 230 injured.

Three attackers, armed with AK47 assault rifles, arrived in a taxi and began firing at the terminal entrance before blowing themselves up when armed police returned fire.

Joe Downy, from Chichester, was in the capital at the time of the attack and took to Facebook to reassure family and friends he was safe.

The 27-year-old, who is visiting the nation as part of his masters degree in conflict, security and development, said: “When I first heard about the attack, it was just an explosion at the airport, then an explosion and gunfire as the story developed.

“I didn’t realise it was such a large attack until this morning.

“I would have been more panicked if the locals had been but from what I saw it looked like any other night.

“Turkey’s endured far worse attacks in recent years.”

Worried friends were relieved Mr Downy was safe.

Ellie Blume, of East Dean, said: “So glad you’re okay, stay safe Joe x x.”

Mr Downy is due to begin his masters degree at the University of Sussex in September.

As part of his research, he has spent months visiting war-torn nations in the Middle East to understand more about the Syrian refugee crisis.

His journey has seen him spend three weeks in Lebanon and one month in various parts of Turkey, speaking to locals and visiting refugee camps.

Mr Downy added: ‘I went along the border between Syria and Turkey and spoke to locals about the threat of terrorism and what they thought.

“One guy said I was in the safest place in Turkey – I was more likely to get killed in Istanbul, Ankara, or London, Belgium, Paris.”

Last night’s bombing is the latest in a string of terrorist attacks in the country.

Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim said early signs pointed to the so-called Islamic State being responsible for the assault, although nobody has admitted any involvement yet.

Details of the raid vary. But officials say the attackers opened fire at the airport entrance, where X-ray machines are positioned.

This then sparked a gun fight between terrorists and armed police.

Two of the attackers are said to have run into the airport, with footage on social media showing terrified holidaymakers fleeing as one of the bombers makes his way through the building.

He is shot by police and remains on the ground for about 20 seconds before blowing himself up.

All three attackers were killed,

Casualties were rushed to hospital in taxi in the wake of the assault.

Prime minister David Cameron described the terrorist attack as ‘hideous’.

He 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”.

Ataturk airport is this morning open although a number of flights have been cancelled.

The site is the third busiest airport in Europe.

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