“It’s so sad:” Turkish natives living in Milwaukee area shocked by attack at Istanbul airport

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ISTANBUL -- Gunshots, screams and explosions pierced the air Tuesday at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, as three terrorists armed with bombs and guns attacked passengers at one of the world's busiest travel spots. Witnesses described deadly carnage and crowds in a panic as the attackers struck. At least 36 people were killed, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, in the terror attack, one for which there was no immediate claim of responsibility. Another 147 people were wounded, Turkey's Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said.

Istanbul airport attack

The horrors of that attack in Turkey are being felt here in southeastern Wisconsin -- home to hundreds of first-generation Turkish families.

Ayhan Munzur

Ayhan Munzur

"It's so sad," Ayhan Munzur, who grew up in Turkey said. "We were planning to send out kids this summer to Turkey but not anymore."

While watching his kids play in Minooka Park in Waukesha Tuesday, Munzur said he couldn't help but think of relatives in Turkey.

"My wife, she called her sister and made sure everybody's OK," Munzur said.

Munzur grew up in Istanbul before moving to the United States 15 years ago. He owns the Cafe de Arts in Waukesha -- where he sells Turkish coffee and pastries.

Cafe de Arts in Waukesha

Cafe de Arts in Waukesha

After the attack Tuesday at Turkey's Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Munzur monitored social media to see which friends and family members posted that they are safe.

"We are praying for those in the hospital right now and we are praying for the family who lose part of their family. We are praying for it never to happen again," Munzur said.

Istanbul airport attack

The Greater Milwaukee area is home to 200 to 300 Turkish families. Many belong to the Turkish American Society of Wisconsin in Greenfield.

Turkish American Society of Wisconsin

Turkish American Society of Wisconsin

"When I saw that -- first I was so shocked," Onur Asan said.

Onur Asan

Onur Asan

Asan with the Turkish American Society said Turkey has a secular, Muslim democracy that has been fighting back against ISIS.

Over the past couple of years, attacks have increased in Turkey, and fear has grown that another attack could happen at any time.

"There`s definitely that fear. People, for instance, don`t go to like places like shopping centers where often they did in the past because those places might be the potential target," Asan said.

Istanbul airport attack

Even so, Turkish families in southeastern Wisconsin say an attack at an airport is so shocking because the airport is supposed to be safe.