(Photo: Credit: REUTERS/Ihlas News Agency/IHA)
At least three people are believed to have been killed after a suicide bomber blew himself up on Friday at the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, with Islamic terrorist group al-Qaida believed to be the prime suspects.
The bomber, who has not yet been identified, apparently entered the embassy and got through the first X-ray machine leading to the visa section, before he detonated himself, NBC News reported. Among those killed was one of the guards at the gate, and another unidentified person is believed to have also been killed. Turkish TV showed an injured woman being carried on a stretcher to an ambulance.
The U.S. Embassy's Twitter account confirmed the bombing, and assured that "appropriate measures were taken," promising that more information would be revealed when it becomes available.
Golnar Motevalli, a BBC journalist near the scene, said that police had barricaded the road, which was filling up with ambulances and fire tricks, describing the situation as "extremely chaotic."
Alaattin Yuksel, the Turkish provincial governor, told reporters: "There were two dead in the suicide bombing, a Turkish security guard and the bomber himself."
U.S. ambassador to Turkey Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr., who confirmed the news, said that the situation was "very sad."
The BBC said that no one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but reminded readers that radical Islamic al-Qaida linked groups have attacked U.S. and U.K. consulates in the past, including a 2003 attack on British targets in Istanbul that killed 58 people.
Another attack, in 2008, blamed on al-Qaida-linked terrorists outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, left three assailants and three policemen dead.
The U.S. State Department also reveals that in July 2011, 15 people linked to al-Qaida were arrested for gathering explosive materials and planning an attack on the same embassy in Ankara. The Department added that such clues "show a willingness on the part of some terrorist groups to attack identifiably Western targets. The possibility of terrorist attacks, from both transnational and indigenous groups, remains high."
CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, who served as a former deputy director in the National Intelligence Director's office, said that police will consider al-Qaida the prime suspects in the bombing, but also pointed out that the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah also has extensive intelligence operations in Turkey.
The Ankara embassy building was reportedly heavily protected, but long-standing plans were in place to move the compound elsewhere for security reasons.