Uzbekistan condemns terrorist attack at Istanbul airport

By Aziza Malik


Turkish security personnel are shown Ataturk Istanbul Airport June 28 after that day's terrorist attack. Olga Tsoi, an Uzbek traveller, witnessed the massacre and posted the photo on her Facebook page. [Photo obtained by Aziza Malik]

ISTANBUL -- Uzbekistanis are reacting with outrage and grief to the terrorist massacre at Istanbul Ataturk Airport June 28.

"This crime, directed against peaceful, innocent people, arouses indignation and hatred," a Tashkent imam, Abullah Hoji, told Caravanserai. "These subhumans from terrorist organisations have once again shown their inhuman face."

"They continue to commit their crimes during the holy month of Ramadan," he added.

On that day, three militants with rifles and suicide bombs killed 44 people, apparently including two Uzbekistani citizens.

Authorities are accusing the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) of plotting the attack.

Some Uzbekistanis witnessed the atrocity.

They include Tashkent journalist Durdona Rasulova, who was waiting for a flight when the attack broke out.

Intense panic ensued after an explosion, she recalled.

"I thought we were all going to die, including my one-year-old son and husband," Rasulova posted on Facebook.

Central Asians might have been involved

Two of the three terrorists were Uzbekistani and Kyrgyz, according to media reports. The third reportedly came from Dagestan. The governments of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have not responded to those reports.

Uzbekistani authorities, who dealt with terrorist shootings and suicide bombings in 1999 and 2004, are alert but refuse to give in to panic.

Flights between Tashkent and Istanbul are back on schedule, Uzbekistan Airways spokeswoman Feruza Kurbanova told Caravanserai.

Authorities are enforcing additional security measures at Uzbekistani airports and railway stations, an employee with the country's security agencies who requested anonymity told Caravanserai.

"All passengers are reacting with understanding," the official said.

Malika Kalandarova, a Tashkent resident who had a flight to Turkey, had to wait about 30 minutes to enter the Tashkent airport terminal.

"Everybody ... understands full well that these inconveniences are linked to security," Kalandarova told Caravanserai. "Nobody is complaining."

Outpouring of sympathy

The airport massacre aroused sympathy from the peoples of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Speaking for their peoples, the countries' presidents expressed their condolences to Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Residents of the two countries brought flowers and candles to the Turkish embassies in Tashkent and Bishkek June 29. Residents of Bishkek held a memorial service for the fallen.

"This is our shared misfortune, because terrorism equally threatens Turkey, Uzbekistan and all countries," Matlyuba Parpiyeva, a resident of Tashkent who came to the Turkish embassy to convey her sympathies, told Caravanserai.

2 innocent Uzbekistanis slain

Uzbekistan is mourning two citizens who were killed at the airport.

"The attack victims include a 22-year-old resident of Namangan Province in Uzbekistan, Abrorjon Ustabayev," reported the online edition of the Turkish internet publication Haberturk.

Ustabayev was killed by one of the bombs immediately after climbing out of a taxi, Haberturk reported. He worked in Istanbul selling luggage.

The other Uzbekistani who died was Samat Mukhiddinov, according to Turkish media.

The Uzbekistani government confirmed Mukhiddinov's death, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

One Kyrgyz citizen suffered a slight injury to his hand, according to the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry.

Many Kyrgyz and Uzbek mosques June 30 held prayer services in memory of those killed in the attack.

Alisher Ramazanov, a student at Tashkent State Technical University, described how the attack had shattered certain illusions.

"I was always convinced that no terrorist attacks would ever reach us," he told Caravanserai. "But this one was too close ... If we aren't alert, [terrorism] can engulf our country too."

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