A bomb exploded outside the entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, on Friday and witnesses say it may be a suicide attack. Details are still very limited, but the blast happened sometime around 1:15 p.m. local time (6:15 a.m. Eastern) and there are reports of damage to the building and many wounded bystanders.
Musa Kesler, a Turkish reporter is tweeting from the scene, and says there are least two people dead. The AP also reports that are two deaths.
big blast at American Embassy in Ankara... there are so many injured..— MUSA KESLER (@MuSaKesLeR) February 1, 2013
The Telegraph says the explosion was caused by a package, not a suicide bomber, but all reports remained unconfirmed. Kesler says his sources are saying one Turkish police officer and the bomber are the two dead people. (A embassy staff member was also killed.) Images being broadcast on Al Jazeera show heavy damage to what appears to be a security station, but the bomber does not appear to have breached the compound's walls.
(PHOTO) Explosion rocks US Embassy in Ankara, Turkey twitter.com/HidirTok/statu…— RT (@RT_com) February 1, 2013
The Ankara embassy, as seen below in a file photo, is one of the more heavily fortified of all American outposts overseas. In 2003, an attack on the British consulate by al Qaeda terrorists in Istanbul killed the Consul-General and 13 others. No one has claimed responsibility for today's blast, but any number of disparate groups—from Kurdish separatists to Islamic militants—have carried out bombings in Turkey in the recent past.
Confirm explosion at the U.S. Embassy. Appropriate measures were taken. Thanks to TNP for quick action.— US Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) February 1, 2013
Update: Local officials have confirmed it was a suicide blast at the entrance used by embassy workers and their guests. Kesler reports that one of the victims was an embassy staffer. It's not known if it was an American or Turkish citizen.
Update: Lucy Kafanov of RT reports it was a U.S. staff member and a Turkish security guard who were killed, along with the bomber. (Correction: The staff member was not an American citizen, but was on the embassy staff.)
Update: According to Musa Kesler of Turkey's Milliyet newspaper, police identified the dead suspect as a member of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front, an extreme leftist party in Turkey that has carried out similar attacks in the past, although only rarely against Western targets. The group is considered a terrorist organization by both Turkey and the U.S. State Department, and they have spoken out against the placement of NATO missiles in Turkey as a deterrent against Syria. Just two weeks ago, the group was targeted by the government in a nationwide sweep that led to 85 arrests and uncovered plans for several future attacks
The AP is also reporting, though the Turkish interior minister, that DHKP/C (the acronym based on its Turkish spelling) is believed to be responsible. No group has claimed responsibility yet—though there are still many, many possible perpetrators.
Update (12:36 p.m.): White House Press Secretary has officially called today's attack "an act of terror"; laying out the phrase that caused everyone so much trouble when discussing the Benghazi consulate attack.