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US calls embassy bombing in Turkey a terror attack

By Suzan Fraser

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Feb. 1 2013 12:02 p.m. MST

Elevated view of the side entrance of the U.S. Embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara, after a suspected suicide bomber detonated an explosive device, Friday Feb. 1, 2013. The bomb appeared to have exploded inside the security checkpoint at the entrance of the visa section of the embassy. A police official said at least two people are dead.

Associated Press

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ANKARA, Turkey — A suicide bomber killed himself and a Turkish security guard Friday at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara in what the White House described as a terrorist attack. Turkish officials said the blast was linked to domestic militants.

The United States immediately warned Americans to stay away from all U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey and to be wary in large crowds.

The blast 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.

"A suicide bombing on the perimeter of an embassy is by definition an act of terror. It is a terrorist attack," White House spokesman Jay Carney.

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 respected Turkish television journalist was also seriously wounded in the 1:15 p.m. blast in the Turkish capital and two other guards sustained lighter wounds, officials said.

The state-run Anadolu Agency identified the bomber by his first name and initial — Ecevit S. It said the 40-year-old 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.

Friday's explosion occurred inside the security checkpoint at the side entrance to the U.S. embassy, which is used by staff. A guard standing outside the checkpoint was killed while the two guards that were wounded "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 "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 footage 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 footage also showed what appeared to be a U.S. marksman in a helmet and body armor surveying the area from 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.

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