A suicide bomber and a Turkish guard have been killed in an attack in front of the US Embassy in Ankara. Turkish officials blamed the attack on domestic leftists.
Turkey and the US immediately condemned the attack and US officials urged Americans to stay away from all US diplomatic offices throughout Turkey.
A Turkish woman TV journalist was also seriously wounded and two other guards suffered lighter wounds in the blast in the Turkish capital, Interior Minister Muammar Guler told reporters.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Mr Guler said "preliminary information" obtained by police indicated that the bomber was likely to be connected to a domestic left-wing militant group.
Turkey's prime minister later said an outlawed Marxist group was responsible for the suicide bombing. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Turkey's HaberTurk television that the attack is the work of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C. The group has been designated a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union.Mr Erdogan said: "It is my principle to speak only after receiving the final result, but I can say clearly that it is DHKP-C."
The 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," Mr 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 US Embassy building in Ankara is heavily protected and located near several other embassies, including those of Germany and France. The Hurriyet newspaper said staff at the embassy took shelter in "safe room" inside the compound soon after the explosion.
In a statement, the US Embassy thanked Turkey for "its solidarity and outrage over the incident." US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone declared that the US and Turkey "will continue to fight terrorism together" and described the US Embassy compound as secure. " Mr Erdogan echoed that sentiment, saying the attack aimed to disturb Turkey's "peace and prosperity" and demonstrated a need for international co-operation against terrorism. "We will stand firm and we will overcome this together," he said.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the attack "in the strongest terms" and said Turkey and the US will get the UK's full support as they seek to hold those responsible to account.
www.state.gov (US State Department)