U.S. Embassy in Turkey attacked: Suicide bomber kills guard at US Embassy in Turkey
Updated: February 2, 2013 - 09:46 am
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - In the second deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic post in five months, a suicide bomber struck the American Embassy in Ankara on Friday, killing a Turkish security guard in what the White House described as a terrorist attack.
Washington immediately warned Americans to stay away from all U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey and to be wary in large crowds.
Turkish officials said the bombing was linked to leftist domestic militants.
The attack drew condemnation from Turkey, the U.S., Britain and other nations and officials from both Turkey and the U.S. pledged to work together to fight terrorism.
"We strongly condemn what was a suicide attack against our embassy in Ankara, which took place at the embassy's outer security perimeter," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
"A suicide bombing on the perimeter of an embassy is by definition an act of terror," he said. "It is a terrorist attack."
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said police believe the bomber was connected to a domestic leftist militant group. Carney, however, said the motive for the attack and who was behind it was not known.
A Turkish TV journalist was seriously wounded in the 1:15 p.m. blast in the Turkish capital, and two other guards had lighter wounds, officials said.
The state-run Anadolu Agency identified the bomber as Ecevit Sanli. It said the 40-year-old Turkish man was a member of the outlawed Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C, which has claimed responsibility for assassinations and bombings since the 1970s.
The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States but had been relatively quiet in recent years.
The U.S. Embassy building in Ankara is heavily protected and located near several other embassies, including those of Germany and France.
U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey have been targeted previously by terrorists. In 2008, an attack blamed on al-Qaida-affiliated militants outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul left three assailants and three policemen dead.
On Sept. 11, 2012, terrorists attacked a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 last year, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The attackers in Libya were suspected to have ties to Islamist extremists, and one is in custody in Egypt.
Friday's bombing occurred inside the security checkpoint at the side entrance to the U.S. Embassy, which is used by staff. The guard who was killed was standing outside the checkpoint, while the two wounded guards "were standing in a more protected area," said Interior Minister Muammer Guler said.
The two were treated on the scene and did not require hospital treatment, he said.
The Hurriyet newspaper said staff at the embassy took shelter in a "safe room" inside the compound soon after the explosion.
Police swarmed the area and immediately cordoned it off. Forensic investigators in white outfits and gloves soon combed the site.
TV news video showed the embassy door blown off its hinges. The blast also shattered the windows of nearby businesses, littering debris on the ground and across the road. The inside of the embassy did not appear to be damaged.
Television video also showed what appeared to be a U.S. guard in a helmet and body armor surveying the area fromÂ the roof of an embassy building.
In a statement, the U.S. Embassy thanked Turkey for "its solidarity and outrage over the incident."
U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone declared that the U.S. and Turkey "will continue to fight terrorism together," and described the U.S. Embassy compound as secure.
"From today's event, it is clear that we both suffer from this terrible, terrible problem of today's world. We are determined after events like this even more to cooperate together until we defeat this problem together," he said.
Erdogan echoed that sentiment, saying the attack aimed to disturb Turkey's "peace and prosperity" and demonstrated a need for international cooperation against terrorism.
"We will stand firm and we will overcome this together," he said.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said U.S. officials were "working closely with the Turkish national police to make a full assessment of the damage and the casualties, and to begin an investigation."
Carney, the White House spokesman, said the attack would strengthen the resolve of Turkey and the U.S.
"Turkey remains one of our strongest partners in the region, a NATO ally," he said. "We have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the Turks to counter terror threats. Turkey has been a very important ally, broadly speaking and in the effort to counter terrorism."
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