Middle East
5:17 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Suicide Bombing At U.S. Embassy In Turkey Kills Security Guard

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 7:17 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

CORNISH: And we begin this hour with a report on today's suicide bombing in Turkey. The target, the U.S. embassy in Ankara. The attack killed two people, a guard and the bomber. The White House called it an act of terror but had no information on the motive behind the blast. Turkish authorities identified the bomber as a member of an outlawed left-wing group. NPR's Peter Kenyon has our story from Istanbul.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: The embassy in Ankara is on a main thoroughfare in the Turkish capital but the entrance is tucked away on a quieter side street with a stand-alone security checkpoint for visitors. This is where Turkish officials say the bomber detonated his device, possibly afraid of discovery. A large hole was blown into the outer wall of the checkpoint and television footage showed rescue crews loading bodies into an ambulance. Ambassador Frank Ricciardone made his way outside to affirm U.S. solidarity with Turkey and to offer condolences to the family of the Turkish security guard who was killed in the blast.

AMBASSADOR FRANCIS RICCIARDONE: We're very sad, of course, that we lost one of our Turkish guards at the gate. We salute his bravery, his service to Turkey and to Turkish-American friendship. We are very sad and we pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded person, also a Turkish citizen.

KENYON: Turkish media say the wounded woman is a Turkish journalist reported to be in critical condition. As speculation began to swirl about who may have been behind the attack, a Kurdish, Syrian, Islamist militant, Turkey's interior minister identified the bomber as a 30-year-old member of a left-wing radical group.

MUAMMER GULER: (Speaking foreign language)

KENYON: Minister Muammer Guler told reporters that the bomber's name was Ecevit Sanli, a member of the revolutionary Peoples Liberation Front, an outlawed splinter group that hatched back to Marxist radical movements of the past.

Former ambassador to Turkey, James Jeffrey, now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says it's unlikely the attack was motivated by something like Israel's recent air strike against Syria. First, because these attacks take time to plan. And second, because this group wouldn't focus on those issues.

JAMES JEFFREY: They are the least likely terrorist organization in the entire Middle East to respond to the Israelis' bombing Syria. These guys are part of the European Marxist urban worldview of the 1970s. I mean, it's just isn't world.

KENYON: Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the attack was another reason for enhanced international cooperation on security.

PRIME MINISTER TAYYIP ERDOGAN: (Speaking foreign language)

KENYON: This attack should remind us of the necessity of working together against terror, the prime minister said, adding that the roots of terror can only be cut by collaborating against terror together at an international level.

In Washington, where the memory of the Libyan attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens remains fresh, officials pointed out that in this case, the embassy's defenses worked. Still, questions will persist about how the bomber got as far as he did. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Istanbul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.