One of the embassy's Turkish staff members was killed in a suicide bomber's attack Friday, as was the bomber himself.
ANKARA, Turkey — A suspected suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in the Turkish capital Friday, killing himself and one other person, officials said.
U.S. Ambassador 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 bomb appeared to have exploded inside the security checkpoint at the side entrance of the embassy, but did not do damage inside the embassy itself. Footage showed that the door had been blown off its hinges and debris littered the ground and across the road. An Associated Press journalist saw a body in the street in front of an embassy side entrance.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the bomber was a member of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a far-left group which is virulently anti-U.S. and anti-NATO and is listed as a terrorist organisation by Washington.
The White House said the suicide attack was an "act of terror" but that the motivation was unclear. U.S. officials said the DHKP-C were the main suspects 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. There was no claim of responsibility.
In New York, the U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the attack as a heinous act.
Turkish media reports identified the bomber as DHKP-C member Ecevit Sanli, who was involved in attacks on a police station and a military staff college in Istanbul in 1997.
Police swarmed the area and several ambulances were dispatched. An AP journalist saw one woman who appeared to be seriously injured being carried into an ambulance.
U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone emerged through the main gate of the embassy shortly after the explosion to address reporters, flanked by a security detail as a Turkish police helicopter hovered overhead.
"We're very sad of course that we lost one of our Turkish guards at the gate," Ricciardone said, describing the victim as a "hero" and thanking Turkish authorities for a prompt response.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned the attack on the checkpoint on the perimeter of the embassy and said several U.S. and Turkish staff were injured by debris.
"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," she told reporters.
The embassy building is heavily protected. It is near an area where several other embassies are located, including that of Germany and France. Police sealed off the area and journalists were being kept away.
The U.S. consulate in Istanbul warned its citizen against visiting its missions in Turkey until further notice.
"The Department of State advises U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Turkey to be alert to the potential for violence, to avoid those areas where disturbances have occurred and to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings," the consulate statement added.
The phones were not being answered at the embassy. In a statement, it thanked Turkey for "its solidarity and outrage over the incident."
As well, homegrown Islamic militants tied to al-Qaida have carried out suicide bombings in Istanbul. In a 2003 attack on the British consulate, a suspected Islamic militant rammed an explosive-laden pickup truck into the main gate, killing 58, including the British consul-general.
In 2008, an attack blamed on al-Qaida-affiliated militants outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul left three assailants and three policemen dead.
Turkey has become a harsh critic of the regime in Syria, where a vicious civil war has left at least 60,000 people dead. The first of six Patriot missile batteries being deployed to Turkey to protect against attack from Syria was declared operational and placed under NATO command on Saturday and others were expected to be operational in the coming days.