Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, and at least four other lawmakers were in Ankara Tuesday when the first deadly bomb attack in four years hit the city.
Others on the trip are Senate GOP Caucus Chairman John McGee, R-Caldwell, and his wife, Hanna; Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston, and his wife, Deborah; Senate Minority Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum; and Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, and her husband, Lew. Hill's wife, Julie, also is on the trip. It's possible others are in the delegation, as the trip is not sponsored by the state and information was incomplete Wednesday.
Three were killed and at least 34 wounded in the attack in the busy city center.
McGee said in a Facebook posting, "Hanna and I were visiting the Turkish Parliament just a few blocks away when this happened. We didnt hear the explosion but saw the smoke. T(h)e Idaho delegation is unharmed."
The trip is sponsored by the Pacifica Institute, a nonprofit group founded by Turkish-Americans that promotes cross-cultural exchanges. Attempts to reach the group's office in Los Angeles on Wednesday were unsuccessful. The Idaho delegation paid for airfare, the institute paid lodging, meals and travel inside Turkey for the trip that began Sept. 13 and ends Sept. 24. State funds were not used.
In March, the Idaho Senate passed Senate Resolution 102, recognizing the state's interest in developing Idaho-Turkey relations. Also in March, a Capitol reception was held in the name of Turkish-American relations.
The four lawmakers were not the first Idahoans to visit Turkey under a program organized by Salih Kalem, an adjunct professor at Boise State since 2008.
Reps. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, John Rusche, D-Lewiston, and Edgar Malepeai, D-Pocatello have been on Pacifica Institute trips. Cathy Holland-Smith, the Legislature's budget director, also has been on a Pacifica trip.
Burgoyne said there was a bombing in Istanbul the day after he and his wife arrived last year. "The bombing did not affect us," Burgoyne said. "We thought it was tragic and horrible but it didn't make us feel insecure. These things can happen anywhere."
Burgoyne, who has long had an interest in Turkey, said the historical features of the trip were "spectacular." He said he suggested that organizers add exchanges with Turkish lawmakers and other officials, an aspect of the current trip. "Turkey has been striving mightily for 200 years to really be Western."
Among the lessons Burgoyne took away was an appreciation of American government.
"An American traveling overseas begins to appreciate their country quite a bit more," he said. "We all should take very seriously the great freedoms we have in this country and how fragile they are."
You can follow Idaho Statesman Politics on Twitter.