BEIRUT — A suicide attacker detonated a bomb yesterday outside the U.S. Embassy in Turkey, killing himself and a Turkish guard but failing to damage the main embassy building or cause serious casualties among U.S. personnel, authorities said.
Turkish officials later identified the suicide bomber as a member of an outlawed, far-left domestic group.
The White House labeled the incident in Ankara a terrorist attack, and U.S. officials praised Turkish authorities for their quick response.
“We have worked shoulder to shoulder with the Turks to counter terror threats,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in Washington.
Turkey is a staunch U.S. ally and the eastern bulwark of the NATO alliance.
“The attack aimed to disturb Turkey’s peace and prosperity and demonstrated a need for international cooperation against terrorism,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
The bombing comes almost five months after a devastating Sept. 11 assault by suspected Islamist militants on a pair of U.S. diplomatic compounds in Benghazi, Libya, resulting in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other American personnel. That attack generated blistering criticism of lax security in Benghazi and prompted a review of security practices at U.S. diplomatic outposts worldwide.
Yesterday, U.S. officials said that the procedures in place prevented further bloodshed and damage.
“The level of security protection at our facility in Ankara ensured that there were not significantly more deaths and injuries than there could have been,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington.
Among the injured was Turkish television journalist Didem Tuncay, 38, a former reporter for the private NTV channel, who was reported in critical condition.
U.S. Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone visited her in the hospital and told reporters that the journalist had come to the embassy yesterday in response to his invitation to tea, the semiofficial Anadolu news agency reported. The ambassador lauded the slain guard, identified as Mustafa Akarsu, 36, as a “hero.” Two other guards suffered minor injuries.