Suicide bombing kills one outside U.S. Embassy in Turkey

Posted at 10:20 AM, Feb 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-01 11:53:01-05

(CNN) — One person died Friday in an apparent suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, police said.

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

Ankara police and health officials said two others were injured in the blast. However, Ankara Gov. Aladdin Yuksel said only one person was wounded in addition to the fatality. The suicide bomber also died, authorities said.

A senior U.S. official said no Americans were among the wounded. The bomb killed a Turkish security guard, the official said.

Images from CNN sister network CNN Turk showed a hole in what appeared to be a building that is part of the outer gate of the embassy compound, which is in very well-protected area of Ankara near the Turkish parliament building. The gate complex includes blast doors, reinforced windows and a series of metal detectors that visitors must navigate before reaching embassy offices.

The blast happened on the same that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leaving the job. Sen. John Kerry will fill that role.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the explosion.

However, Turkey has seen numerous acts of political violence in the past from groups such as leftist anarchists, Kurdish separatists, Islamists and al Qaeda. Turkey has also backed rebels in neighboring Syria, and some violence from that conflict has spilled over into Turkey.

The explosion also occurred as about 400 U.S. military personnel are moving Patriot missile defense batteries to a Turkish military base as part of an effort to defend the country from possible attack from Syria. The batteries arrived on January 30 in the port city of Iskenderun.

The British Embassy in Ankara strongly urged citizens to avoid areas around the U.S. Embassy.

The U.S. Embassy posted a message on its website thanking “the Turkish Government, the media, and members of the public for their expressions of solidarity and outrage over the incident.”

While the U.S. Embassy in Ankara has not seen this kind of incident in decades, in 2008, three police officers died in a shootout with assailants outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul.

Three attackers also died in the incident, which the U.S. ambassador at the time called “an obvious act of terrorism.”

One of the attackers in that incident was believed to have trained with al Qaeda in Pakistan’s Waziristan region.

CNN’s Tim Lister, Barbara Starr, Elise Labott and Gul Tuysuz contributed to this report.