Just few hours earlier today, there has been an explosion outside the US embassy in Ankara, the Turkish capital, in which two persons have been killed and two injured, according to officials and media reports.
A suspected suicide bomber is said to have blown himself up inside the security checkpoint at the entrance of the US embassy’s visa section. It caused smoke to rise from the side entrance after the embassy’s doorway was damaged in the blast, causing debris to fly and scatter on the street.
The explosion resulted in the death of a Turkish security guard and injured two other security personnel in the Cankaya neighborhood. The suicide bomber is said to be among those killed in the blast.
Private NTV television reported two security guards at the embassy entrance were killed. According to the Associated Press, US Ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardione told reporters that a guard at the gate was killed in the 1:15 p.m. blast, and a Turkish citizen was wounded.
The area as seen from television footage is swarming with the policemen and fire brigade personnel. The police have already sealed off the street as rumors abound of a second bomb blast in the locality, which also has the German and French embassies.
Al Jazeera quoting a travel agent Kamiyar Barnos, whose shop window was smashed and splinters fallen around 100 metres away from the blast said: "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."
Meanwhile, no group till now has claimed responsibility for the attack nor has the identity of the suicide bomber been ascertained. Investigation into the explosion has already begun by the Turkish government.
Well aware of the terrorist threats and potential bombings the US consulate building in Istanbul has been well-fortified. While there has been no immediate responsibility for the latest suicide bombing in Ankara, there are assorted groups highly active in Turkey.
These include the Islamic radicals, militants linked to al-Qaeda, far-left groups, far-right groups and the separatist - Kurdish rebels, all of whom have carried out attacks in the past in Turkey.
The Kurdish militants, particularly, have been fighting fiercely trying to gain autonomy in the southeast region which they dominate. These separatist rebels have since last year even stepped up their attacks in Turkey.
The main security threat domestically comes from the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK). The PKK has already been declared a terrorist organization by the US, the EU and Turkey. However, they have focused their campaign mostly on local targets.
Turkey has been a strident critic of Syrian regime and in the forefront urging for world intervention on controlling its neighbor, which is in the midst of a bloody civil strife which has claimed 60,000 lives so far.
Istanbul is actively supporting hundreds of NATO soldiers from countries like the US, Germany and Netherlands which are operating the Patriot missile batteries, along its border with Syria.
In fact, in the coming days this missile system is expected to become operational and more active. It is quite possible these home-bred militants affiliated to al-Qaeda may be responsible for today’s suicide bombing, in retaliation for Turkish support for international forces.
These militants have already carried out two suicide bombings in Istanbul one in 2003 which claimed a total of 58 lives, wounding 146. According to authorities, the attacks had the trademarks of the al-Qaida. The targets were the British consulate, an HSBC bank and two synagogues.
The al-Qaeda-affiliated militants are also understood to be behind the July 2008 blast outside the American embassy in Istanbul. The attack killed three militants and three Turkish policemen.
Meanwhile, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in a statement said: "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... 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."
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