Reuters – by Seltem Iyigun and Nick Tattersall
A Turkish leftist group claimed responsibility on Saturday for a suicide bomb attack on the U.S. embassy and accused Washington of using Turkey as its “slave”, according to a statement posted on the internet.
The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army-Front (DHKP-C) said it carried out Friday’s attack, in which a suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body at the embassy in Ankara, killing himself and a Turkish security guard.
In a statement on “The People’s Cry” website, the DHKP-C, which is listed as terrorist organization by the United States and Turkey, warned Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan he too was a target.
“Murderer America! You will not run away from people’s rage,” the statement said, next to a picture of the bomber, named as Alisan Sanli, wearing a black beret and military-style clothes and with an explosives belt around his waist.
Erdogan, who said hours after the attack that the DHKP-C were responsible, met with his interior and foreign ministers as well as the head of the army and state security service in Istanbul on Saturday to discuss the bombing.
Interior Minister Muammer Guler said the attacker had served time in jail on domestic terrorism charges in Turkey in the past, re-entered the country using false documents and was wanted by the authorities.
“(The bomber) was demanding to pass through the guest and staff gate of the U.S. embassy using a fake ID when he detonated the explosives,” the provincial governor’s office in Ankara said in a statement.
It said he had also detonated a hand grenade.
The White House condemned the bombing as an “act of terror”, while the U.N. Security Council described it as a heinous act.
U.S. officials said the DHKP-C were the main suspects in Friday’s bombing but did not exclude other possibilities.
Islamist radicals, extreme left-wing groups, ultra-nationalists and Kurdish militants have all carried out attacks in Turkey in the past.
U.S. PATRIOT MISSILES
The DHKP-C, formed in 1978, is virulently anti-American.
It called on Washington to remove Patriot missiles, due to go operational on Monday as part of a NATO defense system, from Turkish soil. The missiles are being deployed alongside systems fromGermany and the Netherlands to guard NATO-member Turkey against a spillover of the war in neighboring Syria.
“Our action is for the independence of our country, which has become a new slave of America,” the statement said.
Turkey is a key U.S. ally in the Middle East with common interests ranging from energy security to counter-terrorism and has been one of the leading advocates of foreign intervention to end the civil war in Syria.
It was the second attack on a U.S. mission in four months. On September 11, 2012, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three American personnel were killed in an Islamist militant attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The DHKP-C was responsible for the assassination of two U.S. military contractors in the early 1990s in protest against the first Gulf War and launched rockets at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul in 1992, according to the U.S. State Department.
It has been blamed for previous suicide attacks, including one in 2001 that killed two police officers and a tourist in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square, and has carried out a series of deadly attacks on police stations in the last six months.
Friday’s attack may have come in retaliation for an operation against the DHKP-C last month in which Turkish police detained 85 people. A court subsequently remanded 38 of them in custody over links to the group.
(Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Andrew Roche)