Esenboğa International Airport attack
|Esenboğa International Airport attack|
|Location||Esenboğa International Airport, Ankara, Turkey|
|Date||7 August 1982
16:00 – 19:00 (EEST)
|Perpetrators||Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia|
The Esenboğa International Airport attack was an attack on Esenboğa International Airport in Ankara, Turkey, perpetrated by the "Pierre Gulumian commando" group from the Armenian militant organization ASALA on August 7, 1982. The attack killed nine people and injured 72 others.
Esenboğa International Airport is located 28 km (17 mi) northeast of Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. It has been operating since 1955.
The attack was carried out by Zohrab Sarkissian and Levon Ekmekjian (Ekmekdjian, Ekmekçiyan), who detonated a bomb in the middle of the crowded check-in area at Ankara's Esenboğa Airport, and then opened fire with submachine guns on passport-control officers and passengers, going through passport control for a KLM flight. The witnesses said that one of the perpetrators had kept firing at the fleeing passengers while shouting, "More than a million of us died, what does it matter if 25 of you die?"
The gunmen then fled into the cafeteria, where they took 20 people hostage. Security forces rushed into the cafeteria, killing Sarkissian and wounding Ekmekjian, who was then arrested.
As result of the attack and the ensuing two-hour shootout, nine people were killed and 72 were wounded. The dead included three Turkish police officers, three Turkish passengers and airport personnel, an American woman, and a West German engineer.
ASALA claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call and a communique delivered to the Associated Press office in Beirut, and said that it was a protest against "the Turkish fascist occupation of our land." The ASALA statement said that the responsibility for "the innocent victims" of the Ankara airport attack was "on the shoulders of the enemies of peaceful peoples: the Turkish Government, NATO and the United States." They also warned of further attacks in various Western countries unless 85 Armenians imprisoned in those countries were freed within seven days.
When Levon Ekmekjian was told by Turkish police that the gunmen had succeeded in killing nine people and wounding 72 others, he cried out furiously, "It wasn't enough!" However, during the trial by Ankara martial law command military court he said: "I came here motivated by a belief. However, after this incident, I understand how ridiculous and wrong that belief was."
Ekmekjian was found guilty of carrying out armed action with the aim of separating the whole or part of the state territory and placing it under the sovereignty of another state and sentenced to death on 7 September 1982.
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