Suicide bomber hits US embassy in Turkey

February 02, 2013 - 2:15:52 am



Turkish police forensic experts inspect the area outside the entrance of the US embassy in Ankara after an explosion, yesterday. 

ANKARA: A suicide bomber suspected to be a militant from an outlawed leftwing group blew himself up at the US embassy in Ankara yesterday, killing a Turkish security guard and wounding several other people, officials said.

The bombing at a security roadblock near the entrance to the highly-fortified embassy in an upmarket area of the capital was the latest in a series of attacks on American missions in the Muslim world.

US Vice-President Joe Biden, on a visit to Germany, said the attack had been “characterised by our embassy as a terrorist attack”.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Muammer Guler told reporters that the bomber blew himself up at a staff entrance to the compound.

“We lost one of the three guards at the entrance, while the two others survived with injuries,” he said, adding that a female journalist was also seriously wounded.

He said the bomber was believed to be a member of an illegal “left wing terrorist organisation”, without elaborating.

The attack came two weeks after a major nationwide crackdown on the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP-C), a Marxist group blamed for several acts of terror in Turkey since the late 1970s, including suicide attacks, but Guler did not confirm it was responsible.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for what is the latest of many bloody attacks in Turkey which in the past have been blamed on Kurdish militants, leftist extremists or Al Qaeda linked groups.

Friday’s bombing came on the last day of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as US secretary of state and a week after Nato declared that a battery of US-made Patriot missiles went operational on Turkey’s border with war-torn Syria.

“The attacks target the well-being and peace in our country,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in televised remarks. “We will stand tall and we will stand together... we will get over these.”

The force of the blast damaged nearby buildings in the Cankaya neighbourhood of the capital where many other state institutions and embassies are also located.

In Ankara, police cordoned off the area around the embassies, while a police helicopter hovered in the air and armed US Marines patrolled the embassy roof.

Television footage showed the wounded journalist with a blood-stained face being carried into an ambulance on a stretcher.

US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone vowed to work with Turkey to fight terror, confirming the death of the Turkish security guard and saying: “The compound is secure.”

“We will continue to fight terrorism together. From today’s event it is clear we both suffer from this terrible terror problem,” he told reporters. “We are determined... only more to collaborate together until we defeat this problem.”

In September, the US ambassador to Libya and three other people were killed when dozens of heavily-armed Al Qaeda-linked militants overran the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi nd a nearby CIA-run annex.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius condemned the Turkish bombing while German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered her sympathies to the victims.

Predominantly Muslim Turkey, a close US ally and Nato member, has become a fierce critic of the regime of President Bashar Al Assad since the uprising erupted in March 2011 and called for the deployment of the Patriot missiles after several cross-border attacks.

Western missions in Turkey have been targeted in the past.

In July 2008, three gunmen and three Turkish policemen were killed in an attack outside the US consulate in Istanbul. In November 2003, four suicide car-bomb attacks on two Istanbul synagogues, the British consulate and British bank HSBC killed 63 people, including Britain’s consul general. They were claimed by an Al Qaeda cell.

Yesterday’s attack also comes as the Turkish government is negotiating with leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party to resolve the three-decade Kurdish conflict.

AFP

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