Bomber hits US embassy in Turkey
BY TIM ARANGO and SEBNEM ARSU, New York Times
ISTANBUL -- A man approached a visitor's gate at the U.S. Embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara, Friday afternoon and detonated an explosives-packed vest, killing himself and a Turkish security guard, blowing a gaping hole in the wall and raising new fears about the protection of U.S. diplomats serving in this region.
Within hours Turkish authorities blamed the attack on a homegrown Marxist organization, and Friday evening Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the issue had "pretty much been clarified" because the bomber had been identified, by a skin mark on his head, as a former prisoner once incarcerated for domestic terrorism. Erdogan said DNA testing was under way and would be announced today.
A White House official said it was too early to determine who was behind the attack and that the United States would conduct its own investigation.
The bombing immediately called to mind the attack on an U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, more than four months ago that was carried out by Islamist extremists and killed the U.S. ambassador there and three others. That episode touched off a politically charged debate in Washington about the protection of diplomats in the volatile Middle East, and it led to the tightening of security and heightened fears about Islamist militant extremism.
On Friday, after the Ankara attack, the State Department immediately warned American citizens to temporarily avoid U.S. diplomatic offices in Turkey.
Just after lunchtime, according to images captured on a security camera and reported by the Turkish television channel NTV, a man entered a security checkpoint near the consular section and began to panic as the metal detector buzzed. When he reached for his midsection, a Turkish guard yelled, "Run away, a bomb!" according to NTV. The footage then went black.
Ambulances and the police rushed to the scene. A Turkish journalist on her way to have tea with the U.S. ambassador, Francis J. Ricciardone Jr., was critically wounded.
Alaaddin Yuksel, the governor of Ankara, told reporters in televised remarks that the explosion took place at a security entrance to the embassy grounds. He spoke in front of the main embassy building, which appeared undamaged.