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Blast hits Ankara US embassy

Ankara, Feb. 1 (AP): A suicide bomber detonated an explosive today in front of the US embassy in Ankara, killing himself and a Turkish guard in an attack that Turkish officials blamed on domestic Leftists.

Turkey and the US immediately condemned the attack and officials urged Americans to stay away from all US diplomatic offices throughout Turkey. A Turkish woman was also seriously wounded and two other guards sustained lighter wounds in the 1.15pm blast in the Turkish capital, interior minister Muammer Guler told reporters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Guler said “preliminary information” obtained by police indicated that the bomber was likely connected to a domestic Left-wing militant group. He did not elaborate.

A police official, meanwhile, told The Associated Press that the bomber is most likely a suspected member of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the press. The group has been designated a terrorist organisation by the US but had been relatively quiet in recent years.

Today’s explosion occurred inside the security checkpoint at the side entrance to the US 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”, Guler said.

Police and ambulances swarmed the area and authorities immediately cordoned it off. Forensic investigators in white outfits and gloves 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.

The Hurriyet newspaper said staff at the embassy took shelter in a “safe room” inside the compound soon after the explosion.

 
 
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