A suspected suicide bomber has attacked the American Embassy in the Turkish capital Ankara, killing a security guard.
The bomber targeted the second gate of the embassy building. Television pictures showed that a door of the building had been blown out by the blast, and masonry shorn off a wall was scattered in the area. The strike did not seem to cause much structural damage, but the steady flow towards the embassy of ambulances and emergency vehicles — with sirens blaring at high pitch — pointed to the possibility of casualties.
A Reuters witness saw an injured person being lifted into an ambulance, in an area which was sporadically caught up with slow moving wafts of smoke.
The U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardione acknowledged that a guard at the embassy's gate had been killed, and a Turkish citizen had been wounded in the strike. Turkey’s NTV is reporting that embassy staff members were taken to secure room inside the embassy.
The attack triggered a frenzied response from the authorities. The Ankara Governor and police department chief were quickly at the scene to personally supervise rescue work and to take forensic evidence.
Helicopters flew overhead, while on the ground, apprehension of a second explosion led the authorities to swiftly cordon off the area.
The American Embassy is the heart of Ankara’s diplomatic neighbourhood, with the German and the French embassies located close by.
In his first comments, Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he was awaiting full details about the incident before making any detailed observations.
No one has so far taken responsibility for the strike, but Kurdish separatists and a local branch of al-Qaeda are the initial suspects.
Three senior activists of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), including one of the founding members of the group were, last month, assassinated in Paris, evoking calls for vendetta. The Turkish intelligence is one of the suspects of that strike.
In 2003, suicide bombers of a local branch of al-Qaeda were suspected of bombing the British consulate, a British bank and two synagogues. That attacks had killed at least 58 people.