The horrors unfolded in front of Mert Akbalik in the arrivals hall of the airport.

He pointed to where he said the gunmen entered Istanbul's international airport, where he hid and where he saw shattered glass, pools of blood and one of the worst terrorist attacks in Turkey's modern history.

He also pointed to the signs of resilience. Less than 24 hours after the attack, the glass and blood had been removed. Amid a heavy police presence, passengers hurried to catch flights that mostly resumed after delays and cancellations. Construction workers shouted as they repaired ceiling panels that had been blown out in the suicide attack.

"We have to come back to work today. We have to show that we will not be stopped by these monsters," said Akbalik, an 18-year-old employee who witnessed the incident after finishing a shift at the airport's Sbarro pizzeria.


At least 41 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in an attack that involved at least three men who stalked passengers and airport staff with semi-automatic weapons before blowing themselves up. The victims were mostly from Turkey, but included at least 13 foreigners.

This nation has been badly shaken by this and a string of other recent attacks linked to Kurdish separatists and Isis (Islamic State). Turkish officials suspect the incident to be the work of the militant group, but there has been no claim of responsibility.

Faisal Rashid blamed Isis militants, which also overran much of his country of origin, Iraq, two years ago. In bone-white shorts, the 15-year-old stood in the departures area with his mother, father and 6-year-old brother, Mostafa.

They were supposed to just transit through Istanbul the previous day, after flying from Sweden, where the family now lives.

They prepared to check in for a flight to the Iraqi city of Suleimaniyah. They should have landed there last night, but then the bombers struck.

"Suddenly there were hundreds of people running towards us, screaming, 'run!'" he said. "We didn't know what to do. Somebody just broke open a door and then we ran outside into the airport. We were hiding near the planes."

As he spoke, people from dozens of countries speaking various languages chatted, pulled luggage and tried to move on with their lives.

Faisal described the chaos, and his fear.

So did Mostafa. "There was blood, guts. It was on the floor," he said.

His mother, May, put her arms around him.

Airport authorities sealed off a large section of the departures area that was damaged by another suicide bomber. Employees prevented journalists and passengers from taking photographs of the disabled check-in kiosks, which were scarred by the blast.

Hanging over the area were two Turkish flags and a massive banner displaying the visage of the late Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey's first president who is revered here.

Flights appeared to be arriving and departing with fewer problems, but delays still continued to affect some.

Mattias Gunzer had just arrived from a flight from Tel Aviv, where he attended a medical conference. He was only supposed to transit through Istanbul, but his flight to Germany had been postponed to the following morning. He would not venture beyond the airport, he insisted.

"There's no way I'm going inside Istanbul. I'm afraid, of course," said Gunzer, 47, who lives in the German city of Dusseldorf.

Even as many people tried to go on about their days, airport employees mourned fallen colleagues. A picture of a woman named Ozgul Ide and her colleague hung from the closed entrance to Simit Saray, a cafe in the arrival hall where one of the assailants blew himself up. A group of people looked at the memorial photograph of the two, who were killed during the incident. One woman was crying, her hands cupped around her mouth and nose.

My family, all of us, are lucky that we were not hurt. It's incredible that none of us were even here at the time of the attack. I can't explain it


Only a day before, Aynur Olmez, another employee at Sbarro pizzeria, recalled running into Ozgul.

Olmez, 38, struggled to hold back tears.

"We're sad. We're scared. I knew her [Ozgul]. I knew a lot of them," she said as she finished a shift. In a traditional headscarf, she was about to break her daylong fast for Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.

Olmez had the day off yesterday.

At the time of the attack, she said, her son, Abdulkadir, 18, was on his way to work a shift at the Caffe Nero in the arrival hall. And her brother, Regep, also works at the airport as a shuttle driver. He had just driven a group of passengers away from the airport when the assailants began firing into the crowds of people, she said.

"My family, all of us, are lucky that we were not hurt. It's incredible that none of us were even here at the time of the attack," Olmez said. "I can't explain it."

Olmez roughly translates in English as "immortal."

As she spoke, she flipped through photographs on her cellphone of people who were wounded in the attack. One man lay in a bloodied T-shirt, his eyes open but lifeless. Another man was crumpled on his side.

"It's horrible what happened to us," she said.