No group has claimed responsibility for the suicide bomber who detonated powerful explosives outside the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey, on Friday, though the Turkish interior minister blames a Marxist group deemed illegal in the country.
Minister Muammer Guler says the bomber belongs to the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front, according to Reuters. The attacker killed himself and an embassy guard in the blast. A well-respected Turkish journalist is among the wounded, an official at the Turkish Embassy in the United States tells U.S. News.
Intelligence analysts say the attack is consistent with the leftist group's usual M.O., but point to other organizations, such as al Qaeda, that have equal means and motivation to attack the U.S. embassy.
"Al Qaeda affiliates are known to operate in Turkey and have grown stronger in the region due to power vacuums in Syria and Iraq," says Stratfor, a private intelligence firm, in a statement released Friday. "Syria and Iran have threatened Turkey over its substantial backing of the Syrian rebellion, and thus could use an attack to discourage Turkey from trying to bring down the Syrian regime." Foreign Minister Ahmet Davotuglu will speak with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday, the official says, as well as with incoming Secretary of State John Kerry. Clinton retires from her cabinet position Friday.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not tie the attack to any particular group, but said it was "an extension of terrorism."
"All of these are attacks on our country's well-being and peace," he said in a statement obtained by U.S. News. "We will stand strong against all of these, stay sharp, hold together and overcome these."
U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone said Friday the U.S. and Turkey "will continue to fight terrorism together." British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the attacks and offered the United Kingdom's full support.
The bombing took place almost exactly a week after Patriot missiles from NATO arrived in Turkey to help protect the border with war torn Syria.
The Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, is one of the most active militant groups in Turkey, and has been fighting with the Turkish government along the border with Syria. However, this group is usually hesitant to attack Western targets, Stratfor says, for fear of politically isolating itself.
The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front has previously employed suicide bombers to attack domestic sites, such as an Ankara police station in September 2012. However, it's parent organization, Devrimci Sol, engaged in more than 20 strikes against the U.S. and other allied countries during the Persian Gulf War, says Stratfor.
Here is the full text of Prime Minister Erdogan's Friday statement:
"The suicide bombing at the personnel entrance of the U.S. Embassy building in Ankara has led to an unfortunate outcome. Of course this is an extension of terrorism, and from the very beginning, we have stated that we should fight this common struggle together all around the world. All of our security personnel are conducting their investigations there. When sound results ensue fully, we will make the necessary statements.
"The suicide bomber was torn into pieces but besides that, according to one account, either one person from the private security team and according to another account two of our citizens died there. There are also people who were injured, and we wish them a quick recovery. All of these are attacks on our country's well-being and peace. We will stand strong against all of these, stay sharp, hold together and overcome these. We will never make our martyrs turn in their graves, we will not torment their souls. We were not involved in any kind of attempt that will hurt or embarrass you, and we will not be."
Check out these unconfirmed tweets from the site of the explosion: