According to a Turkish official, five Saudis and two Iraqis were among the 13 foreigners killed. There were also citizens from China, Jordan, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Iran and Ukraine.
In a statement to local news outlet NTV television, Istanbul's Governor Vasip Sahin reported three suicide bombers carried out the attack outside a security checkpoint in Ataturk Airport’s international terminal. Initial local media reports cited only two attackers. A spokesperson with the Istanbul police also confirmed witness reports of gunfire.
The suicide bomber "first opened fire with a Kalashnikov then detonated himself," Turkey's Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ told CNN, reporting that no bombs detonated within the building itself.
At this point, the identities and motives of the attackers remain unclear. Turkey, which has been a target of violence both from ISIS and Kurdish rebels, has seen a spate of attacks in the past year, with suicide bombings in Istanbul’s tourist centers; a car bomb at a police bus center, which killed 11 people; and two car bombings in the capital city of Ankara, claimed by Kurdish rebels.
Many of the attacks in Istanbul have targeted foreign visitors. In January, a bombing in Istanbul’s historic center killed 10 people — mostly German tourists — and a second bombing in March killed four and injured 36 in a busy tourist shopping market.
The US State Department had just updated its travel warning for Turkey on Monday, the day before the attack, warning US citizens of terrorism threats throughout the country and advising Americans to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey (Istanbul is located in the country’s northwest).