THE Turkish government was calling on the international community to form an international alliance to fight the scourge of terrorism, Turkish Ambassador to South Africa, Kaan Esener, said on Wednesday morning.
“No country is immune from such attacks as we’ve seen repeatedly recently with multiple attacks in Europe and elsewhere,” Esener told the African News Agency (ANA) during an exclusive interview following Tuesday night’s deadly gun and bomb attack at Istanbul’s Attaturk airport which killed at least 41 people and injured more than 140 others.
Esener, however, said the casualty figures at Attaturk Airport could have been much higher had Turkish security forces not been on high alert and had years of experience fighting terrorism.
The Turkish Ambassador pointed out that unlike the nail-bomb attacks in Belgium in March, which killed 32 people after Islamic State (IS) extremists attacked Brussels Airport and Maalbeek Metro station after successfully entering the interiors of the stations, Turkey’s highly trained security forces had stopped two of the attackers outside the airport.
“Turkish security forces were able to shoot dead two of the attackers outside the airport before they were able to penetrate the inside of the terminal. The third attacker then blew himself up after being able to move closer,” said Esener.
“Turkey has been fighting extremists for years. We’ve been fighting Kurdish separatists for decades and have been targeted by IS Jihadists regularly over the last few years,” Esener told ANA.
“The Turkish government and public are feeling a mixture of emotions, including anger, shock and sadness,” said Esener as he described the current mood on the ground in Istanbul.
“However, there is also a feeling of defiance and determination in that we will not allow the terrorists to disrupt our life.
“Attaturk Airport, which is one of the busiest in the world, was back to functioning normally by 5am this morning with flights landing and departing. This is a message to IS that they will not defeat us,” said Esener.
“However, security has obviously been increased further. But the gist of our message to the world is that nobody is safe and we have to stand together,” the Turkish Ambassador stated. – ANA