Turkish police officers react after an explosion at the
entrance of the US Embassy in Ankara. REUTERS/Yavuz
Ozden/Milliyet Daily Newspaper/
A far-leftist suicide bomber killed a Turkish security
guard at the US embassy in Ankara, officials said, blowing open
an entrance and sending debris flying through the air.
The attacker detonated explosives strapped to his body after
entering an embassy gatehouse. The blast could be heard a
mile away. A lower leg and other human remains lay on the
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the bomber was a member of
the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a
far-left group which is virulently anti-US and anti-NATO and
is listed as a terrorist organisation by Washington.
The White House said the suicide attack was an "act of
terror" but that the motivation was unclear. U.S. officials
said the DHKP-C were the main suspects but did not exclude
Islamist radicals, extreme left-wing groups,
ultra-nationalists and Kurdish militants have all carried out
attacks in Turkey in the past. There was no claim of
"The suicide bomber was ripped apart and one or two citizens
from the special security team passed away," said Prime
Minister Tayyip Erdogan.
"This event shows that we need to fight together everywhere
in the world against these terrorist elements," he said.
Turkish media reports identified the bomber as DHKP-C member
Ecevit Sanli, who was involved in attacks on a police station
and a military staff college in Istanbul in 1997.
Turkey is a key U.S. ally in the Middle East with common
interests ranging from energy security to counter-terrorism
and has been one of the leading advocates of foreign
intervention to end the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
Around 400 U.S. soldiers have arrived in Turkey over the past
few weeks to operate Patriot anti-missile batteries meant to
defend against any spillover of Syria's civil war, part of a
NATO deployment due to be fully operational in the coming
The DHKP-C was responsible for the assassination of two U.S.
military contractors in the early 1990s in protest against
the first Gulf War and launched rockets at the U.S. consulate
in Istanbul in 1992, according to the U.S. State Department.
Deemed a terrorist organisation by both the United States and
Turkey, the DHKP-C has been blamed for suicide attacks in the
past, including one in 2001 that killed two police officers
and a tourist in Istanbul's central Taksim Square.
The group, formed in 1978, has carried out a series of deadly
attacks on police stations in the last six months.
The attack may have come in retaliation for an operation
against the DHKP-C last month in which Turkish police
detained 85 people. A court subsequently remanded 38 of them
in custody over links to the group.
U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone emerged through the main
gate of the embassy shortly after the explosion to address
reporters, flanked by a security detail as a Turkish police
helicopter hovered overhead.
"We're very sad of course that we lost one of our Turkish
guards at the gate," Ricciardone said, describing the victim
as a "hero" and thanking Turkish authorities for a prompt
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned
the attack on the checkpoint on the perimeter of the embassy
and said several U.S. and Turkish staff were injured by
"The level of security protection at our facility in Ankara
ensured that there were not significantly more deaths and
injuries than there could have been," she told reporters.
It was the second attack on a U.S. mission in four months. On
Sept. 11, 2012, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three
American personnel were killed in an attack on the U.S.
Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The attack in Benghazi, blamed on al Qaeda-affiliated
militants, sparked a political furore in Washington over
accusations that U.S. missions were not adequately
A well-known Turkish journalist, Didem Tuncay, who was on her
way in to the embassy to meet Ricciardone when the attack
took place, was in a critical condition in hospital.
"It was a huge explosion. I was sitting in my shop when it
happened. I saw what looked like a body part on the ground,"
said travel agent Kamiyar Barnos, whose shop window was
shattered around 100 metres away from the blast.