ANKARA, Turkey – In the second deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic post in five months, a suicide bomber struck the American Embassy in Ankara on Friday, killing a Turkish security guard in what the White House described as a terrorist attack.
Washington immediately warned Americans to stay away from all U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey and to be wary in large crowds.
Turkish officials said the bombing was linked to leftist domestic militants.
The attack 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.
We strongly condemn what was a suicide attack against our embassy in Ankara, which took place at the embassy’s outer security perimeter, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
A suicide bombing on the perimeter of an embassy is by definition an act of terror, he said. It is a terrorist attack.
The state-run Anadolu Agency identified the bomber as Ecevit Sanli. It said the 40-year-old Turkish man was a member of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, 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.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her farewell speech to State Department staff moments after she formally resigned as secretary of state, said,We were attacked and lost one of our foreign service nationals.
U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey have been targeted previously by terrorists.
In 2008, an attack blamed on al-Qaida-affiliated militants outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul left three assailants and three policemen dead.
On Sept. 11, 2012, terrorists attacked a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The attackers in Libya were suspected to have ties to Islamist extremists, and one is in custody in Egypt.
Friday’s bombing occurred at a security checkpoint at the side entrance to the U.S. Embassy, which is used by employees.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said a man detonated a suicide vest at the checkpoint on the outer perimeter of the embassy compound.
He came to this first point of access to the compound where you have to have your ID checked, you have to go through security, Nuland said.
The guard who was killed was standing outside the checkpoint, while the two wounded guards were standing in a more protected area, Interior Minister Muammer Guler said.
The two were treated on the scene and did not require hospital treatment, he said.
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, Nuland said.
This is one of the compounds where we have been making steady security upgrades over the last decade, Nuland said in a written statement.
Ed Royce, the chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the attack was another stark reminder of the constant terrorist threat against U.S. facilities, personnel and interests abroad.
Coming after Benghazi, it underscores the need for a comprehensive review of security at our diplomatic posts. The committee stands ready to assist the State Department in protecting our diplomats, he said.