Istanbul airport attack victims mourned, honored, praised

ISTANBUL (AP) — An adoring father of his four “princesses.” A weeping bride-to-be, bent over her fiancee’s coffin. Two women looking forward to a few days’ vacation with their husbands and their infant children. Victims of Tuesday night’s attack at Istanbul’s main airport have left behind mourning friends and relatives who are now struggling to deal with their loss. Here are some of their stories:

___

Jusuf Haznedaroglu and Nilsu Ozmeric of Turkey were looking forward to their wedding less than two weeks away. On Thursday, Ozmeric stood weeping over her fiancee’s coffin, her engagement ring dangling from her neck.

His mother also mourned at a service in Istanbul. “The wedding was next week,” Cervinye Haznedaroglu sobbed as visitors came to offer condolences. “You came at the wrong time.”

Haznedaroglu, 32, began working at Ataturk Airport’s Ground Services department last year. He died in a hospital after sustaining critical injuries from the attack on the airport while waiting for a bus to go home.

___

Friends of Ozgul Ide, 21, were devastated by the young woman’s death in Tuesday’s suicide attacks on Istanbul’s main airport.

“At just 21 … still so young, far too young to die,” wrote one former classmate on her Facebook page. “I’m so sad, I haven’t been able to stop crying all day.”

A workplace friend wrote: “May you make it into Heaven my dear colleague… you left us far too early. We will not forget you, Ozgul.”

After moving from Turkey’s southeastern province of Batman to Istanbul 12 years ago with her family, Ide graduated from the Tourism and Hotel Management department at Istanbul’s Arel University. She began working at the airport’s Ground Services department six months ago.

___

Turkish customs officer Umut Sakaroglu, 31, died while trying to stop Tuesday’s deadly suicide attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport — but social media has made sure that he will not be forgotten.

After firing at one of the three armed gunmen attacking the airport and wounding him, Sakaroglu died when the attacker detonated his suicide vest. Social media pages commemorating his deed are calling him a “hero” who is “immortal.”

One of five siblings, Sakaroglu came from the southern province of Hatay, where his parents run a cafe.

___

Palestinian officials say Sondos Shraim and her 3-year-old son, Rayan, both succumbed to their wounds Thursday. The two were in Istanbul for a Ramadan vacation along with her husband, who was injured.

Already listed as dead Wednesday was a family friend, Nisreen Melhim, 28. She too was looking forward to a few days of vacation along with her husband and their 3-year-old daughter.

Melhim and her husband worked in Saudi Arabia and planned to relax in the city before flying home to Palestine for Ramadan. They were caught up in the terror attacks shortly after the family left the arrivals terminal and was heading toward the taxi stand.

“We heard shooting from a distance,” said Marvan, Nisreen’s husband. “The explosion went off. I found my wife bleeding and my daughter too.”

Nisreen died in hospital shortly afterward, leaving her husband shocked and mourning. “The ones who did this are brutal criminals,” he said. “How come they kill innocent people?”

___

Adem Kurt, 32, never forgot his parents and other relatives. Even though he had moved to Istanbul to work at the Ataturk International Airport, he made it a point to visit his family in the northwestern province of Bursa every weekend. He had worked at the airport as part of supervisory staff for nearly two years before the attacks that claimed his life, cutting short reported plans for his engagement and future marriage.

His family held a service in front of their home in Bursa on Wednesday before the funeral moved to the mosque.

____

Uzbek national Abrorjon Ustabayev, 22, was a trader who frequently visited the country to buy wares to sell back home. Ustabayev had arrived at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport Tuesday night with $12,000 worth of textiles when he was caught up in the deadly suicide bombing attacks.

Close friend Kemal Han said that he had spoken by phone with Ustabayev shortly before the attacks.

“He loved Turkey and had many dreams,” Han told the state-run Anatolia news agency. “Terrorism destroyed both those dreams and his love of Turkey.”

___

Caglayan Col, 26, began working at Ataturk International Airport’s Ground Services in 2014. He was killed as he waited for the bus to take him home.

After studying biology at Osmangazi University in the northwestern province of Eskisehir, Col had moved to Istanbul. But his frequent visits to his village were remembered by everyone back home. “Caglayan was beloved by all,” Baspinar village administrator Kazim Korkmaz told the state-run Anatolia news agency.

Col would frequently comment on social media about his patriotism. One such tweet read, “While my head might generally be volatile, my blood is not. Sure, I might occasionally have emotional ups and downs, (but) my heart has belonged to my country ever since my father first thought of me.”

His friends took to social media to commemorate Col and condemn the terrorist attack. “Could this really be happening? He was just making a living,” wrote Serkan Ozmen.

___

Two days after the attack Saudi Arabia says that subsequent checks on its citizens show that three Saudis were killed in the attack on Istanbul’s international airport, after earlier reporting that six Saudis had been killed.

Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul said Thursday that four of the six originally thought to be Saudi citizens were passengers on a Saudi Airlines flight, but turned out to be Afghan and Turkish passport holders. They also said that another Saudi who had been wounded in the attack had since died. Saudi authorities did not name the Saudi victims.

__

Col. Fathi Bayoudth was struck down by the attacks while apparently attending to family business.

Quoting security sources in Tunis and Ankara, the Tunisian publication Business News said the Tunisian military doctor was in Istanbul to meet his son who had joined the Islamic State extremist group in Syria and had been seen in the conflict zone.

His family, with the help of Tunisian intelligence, convinced him to leave the group and return home via Istanbul, said the publication. The son, in his 20s, was arrested by Turkish authorities for extradition to Tunis, it reported.

The Tunisian Foreign Ministry confirmed the death of Bayoudth, head of the pediatric service at the Tunis military hospital. But officials would not elaborate, saying details were personal and additional information had to come from the family.

____

Murat Gulluce adored his four daughters, referring to them as his “princesses” on social media. Now, they are fatherless.

Critically wounded in the attack, Gulluce was rushed to a hospital but doctors were unable to save him.

Writing of the loss on Facebook, his sister, Ayse Nur Gulluce Cakar, described him as “my dear older brother whom I used to refer to as father… I cannot endure such pain.”

Originally from the eastern province of Erzurum, Gulluce had moved to Istanbul and worked as a jeweler. Later, he travelled to Uzbekistan where he started a greenhouse cultivation business. Dissatisfied with his work abroad, he returned to Istanbul and began working as a hotel manager. On Tuesday night he had arrived at the airport to fly to Uzbekistan.

___

Muhammed Eymen Demirci, 25, felt fortunate to have finally found work so he could help pay for his two younger sisters’ education.

Hoping to one day become a cabin steward, Demirci graduated from Istanbul University’s Public Relations Department but was unable to find any employment for over a year. He was ecstatic to finally be hired by the airport’s ground services in May, texting his friends “I got the job bro!”

But on Tuesday night, while waiting for the bus to take him home after his shift, Demirci was killed by one of the suicide bombs.

Childhood friend Deniz Dogan had helped Demirci prepare for the job exam and reassured him throughout the process. “He was such a friendly person, a man who fought for his ideals,” Dogan told the AP, “Now I wish he hadn’t gotten the job.”

A black belt in taekwondo and an excellent football player, Demirci’s loved ones noted he was as passionate about sports as he was about life and work. His funeral took place on Wednesday in Istanbul’s Basakshir neighborhood.

___

Ukrainian Larisa Tsybakova, 46 was at the airport together with her husband, according to the Ukrainian consul in Istanbul, Vasyl Bodnar. Bodnar said she died of blood loss after receiving a leg wound, but provided no other details.

Ukrainian news reports said that Tsybakova, a resident of the Black Sea port of Odessa, was making a vacation trip to Turkey with her husband and son.

___

Waiting for fares in front of Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport’s passenger terminal was routine for taxi driver Mustafa Biyikli, 51. And that’s how he died Tuesday night.

The veteran cabbie was a father of three. “There is no justice,” said daughter Oznur Buzakci tas she waited to retrieve her father’s body from the Forensic Medicine Institute.

Wrapped in a Turkish flag, his coffin was brought before the Taxi Drivers’ Cooperative for a memorial service before burial. He was one of three drivers reported killed and 11 wounded in the attack.

At funeral services for his colleagues. Erol Eskisoy and Ali Zulfukar Yorulmaz, other cab drivers shouted out slogans condemning terrorism. “We are all very sad,” said Orhan Gul ,

Relative Orhan Gul said Eskisoy was beloved by all. “He was only 35-40. He had been a cab driver for a long time. He had gone to the airport to drop off a customer last night,” Gul told reporters, “Our brother lost his life there. We are all very sad.”

___

In her own words, Gulsen Bahadir, 28, was a lover not a fighter.

Last week she had written on Facebook, “Never in my life have I fought, never. Not for the things I wanted, not for myself, not for my loved ones, not for the things life has denied me, not for when I faced injustice. I made this choice not because I lacked the strength but because I chose not to. Instead I chose to resist, because I do not believe fighting yields any results. There are no winners in war, only losers. They are the only ones that remain, the only ones that are remembered.”

An employee at Ataturk International Airport, Bahadir was killed during Tuesday’s deadly suicide attack. Critically wounded by a bullet, she was rushed to the hospital but doctors were unable to save her.

She was an only child. Her mother Fahriye Bahadir was in tears during her daughter’s funeral on Wednesday: “What has my daughter done to them?”

___

Serkan Turk, 24, fell to the second explosion while helping the victims of the first blast, the Turkish daily Yeni Akit reported.

Hakan Dagdeviren, a friend and head of the Justice and Development Party youth branch said Turk was a hardworking man who was full of life.

“Serkan was a good person,” he said. “From what I’ve learned he had rushed to the site of the first explosion to help the wounded. He died in the second explosion,” Dagdeviren told Yeni Akit.

Asst. Prof. Ilhan Toksoz of Trakya University said Turk “was a young man who loved his country and was full of life.” Turk graduated last year from the university’s physical education and sports college.

___

Merve Yigit, 22, had been working in catering at the airport. She died in an Istanbul hospital on Wednesday evening, a day after the attack. She had been treated for injuries caused by shrapnel that pierced her abdomen, stomach and head.

A student of public relations, Yigit had been working part-time as a cook for an airport catering firm for nearly three years.

___

This story has been corrected to show that the attack was Tuesday, not Wednesday.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s