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Turkey’s suicide bomber believed to be from banned leftist group: minister

Published: Updated:

Turkish police suspect the suicide bomber who attacked the U.S. Embassy on Friday, killing himself and a security guard, belonged to a far-left militant group, state broadcaster TRT said.

The bomber, about 30-years-old, used plastic explosives in the attack. He is believed to have spent time in prison on terrorism-related charges and was a member of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), TRT said.

Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler told reporters Friday that the suicide bomber was believed to be a Turkish citizen.

Guler said a woman was badly wounded in the attack on the U.S. mission and that two security guards were receiving out-patient care at a hospital.

Earlier on Friday, a blast had hit the U.S. embassy in Ankara. The force of the blast damaged nearby buildings in the Cankaya neighborhood where many other state institutions and embassies are also located.

NTV television reported that a person detonated a bomb at the security roadblock near the entrance to the embassy’s visa section, where dozens of people wait every day.

“It was a huge explosion. I was sitting in my shop when it happened. I saw what looked like a body part on the ground,” said travel agent Kamiyar Barnos whose shop window was shattered around 100 meters away from the blast.

Police have cordoned off the area but there has been no official comment on the blast outside the highly fortified complex.

The United States confirmed Friday that its embassy in Ankara had been hit by a “terrorist” bomb attack and said that American officials were working with Turkish investigators.

“We can confirm a terrorist blast at a check point on the perimeter of our embassy compound in Ankara, Turkey, at 1:13 p.m. local time,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

“We are working closely with the Turkish national police to make a full assessment of the damage and the casualties, and to begin an investigation. We will share more information as it becomes available,” she added.
Many possible enemies

Predominantly Muslim Turkey is a close U.S. ally and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The blast comes barely a week after NATO declared that a battery of U.S.-made Patriot missiles went operational on Turkey's border with war-torn Syria on Saturday.

In addition to that, Islamist radicals, far-left groups, far-right groups and Kurdish separatist militants have all carried out attacks in Turkey in the past.

The main domestic security threat comes from the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), deemed a terrorist group by the United States, European Union and Turkey, but the PKK has focused its campaign largely on domestic targets.

In July 2008, three gunmen and three Turkish policemen were killed in an attack outside the U.S. consulate in Istanbul.

In November 2003, four suicide car-bomb attacks on two Istanbul synagogues, the British consulate and British bank HSBC killed 63 people, including Britain's consul general.

The bombings were claimed by an Al-Qaeda cell.