A suicide bomber exploded just inside the security checkpoint at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. One Turkish guard is reported dead and bystanders are rushed to the hospital.
A suspected suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at the entrance to the visa section of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara today. The explosion appeared to have gone off inside the checkpoint. It blew off the checkpoint door and sent debris flying out into the street. Windows in nearby shops were shattered as shaken witnesses witnessed the devastation. A Turkish travel agent saw a body part, and an Associated Press journalist saw one body lying in the street in front of the embassy and a badly injured woman being put into an ambulance. An anonymous police officer told the Turkish NTV news station that two Turkish guards were killed inside the checkpoint at the visa entrance to the U.S. Embassy, but that report was later amended by U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardione who stated that one guard and the suicide bomber were killed. Several people were injured and taken to local hospitals.
The U.S. Embassy is in a heavily-guarded section of Ankara. The stately embassy compound is located near other embassies, including those of Germany and France. Police checkpoints are on the road nearby. The U.S. Embassy was not answering its telephones, and the area was quickly blocked off. Journalists were not allowed to approach the area. The U.S. Embassy issued a statement thanking the Turkish government, the media, and the public for their support.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for this attack. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a statement of outrage on Turkish television, TGRT Haber, and vowed to find out who committed the reprehensible act. "I want Muslims and Christians to live together happily," he stated.
Speculations are that the suicide bomber was working for the PKK, a Kurdish rebel group often involved in terrorist activities—or for homegrown Turkish Islamist militants associated with al-Qaida. These Islamist militants were blamed for suicide bombings in Istanbul in 2003 that targeted the British Consulate, a British bank, and two synagogues—and killed 58 people. In 2008, Islamic militants associated with al-Qaida led an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul that killed three militants and three Turkish policemen who were guarding the consulate.
Turkey has been cooperating with the United States in allowing patriot missiles and NATO troops to be deployed along the Turkish-Syrian border in the wake of attacks from Syria onto Turkish soil.
"I am not surprised that this happened," a Turkish man stated as he heard about the U.S. Embassy attack. "It can be dangerous to be an American in Turkey."
Journalist's note: I have been to the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, an impressive building set like a castle on a hill. Just two months ago, I traveled to Ankara and walked from the metro station to the U.S. Embassy. I stood at the very spot where this bomb exploded inside the visa entrance. The Turkish police who assisted me were helpful and vigilant. May we remember the fallen guard and his family at this time.
Update: Turkish news now reporting that the suicide bomber was a member of The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a far-left Turkish terrorist group that was responsible for a 2001 attack on Taksim Square in Istanbul that killed 2 Turkish police officers and a tourist. They also attacked an Istanbul police station on September 11, 2012. The DHKP-C do not want Turkey to be influenced by America. The DHKP-C recently claimed responsibility for the bombing, stating that it was in retaliation for U.S. policies in the Middle East. Besides the Turkish guard who was killed, a Turkish journalist who had planned to have tea with U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardione was seriously injured in the attack. The U.S. State Department issued warnings to Americans to stay away from large crowds and U.S. facilities in Turkey.
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