DHKP/C claims responsibility for the attack on U.S. Embassy
The outlawed Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) claimed responsibility Feb. 2 for the attack targeting the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. The leftist group justified the attack as retaliation for American policy in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Libya in a statement published on its website, according public broadcaster TRT.
Earlier, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had confirmed reports claiming the attacker was a 30-year-old member of DHKP/C. The suspect, identified as Ecevit Şanlı, has previously spent time in prison, according to reports.
“The suicide bomber exploded the bomb right after crossing [the personnel entry] and died in the explosion. A birth mark on his head proves [his identity], but DNA tests will be carried out to make sure. It is clear that he is a member of DHKP/C. He has perpetrated such attacks before,” he said, during a live TV interview on private broadcaster Haberturk.
Erdoğan also played down claims that the attack might be related to Turkey’s position on the Syria crisis. “I don't reach to this conclusion. You know that the DHKP/C made some other attempts lately, but Turkey is taking steps against terrorism as well,” said Erdoğan, highlighting the recent police raids against lawyers and alleged members of the leftist group.
The prime minister also said he had called U.S. Ambassador Francis Riccardone to express his condolences, and wished a speedy recovery to the journalist Didem Tuncay, who was heavily injured in the attack.
The Ankara Governor's Office also confirmed the suicide bomber as Ecevit Şanlı, a member of DHKP/C who had attacked an Istanbul military guesthouse in 1997. The attacker has been identified by his family to the authorities and a DNA test has been carried out.
The suspect used six kilos of TNT and an electronic detonator, according to authorities. He also detonated a grenade during the attack, authorities said.
The statement added that the suicide bomber tried to enter the U.S. embassy with fake identification.
Suicide bomber Ecevit Şanlı spent time in prison between 1997 and 2000 for attacking an Istanbul military guest house, Harbiye Orduevi, with a flame thrower.
He participated in hunger strikes while being held in Ümraniye Prison in 2000, a time when massive hunger strikes were initiated in Turkish prisons. Şanlı, who suffered from Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome, was released on probation in 2002.
CIA collaborating with Turkish authorities
Meanwhile, Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Güler said the suicide bomber at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara was found to have entered Turkey illegally with fake identification. Güler said the bomber had been released from prison in 2001 and left the country, adding that there had been a warrant for his arrest.
Daily Hürriyet reported that the suspect, Şanlı, had been living in Germany. Şanlı was not detected by the police as he entered Turkey illegally and he presented himself to embassy security as a German citizen, according to the report.
The report also said the authorities were trying to determine who assisted Şanlı in entering Turkey illegally. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has contacted the German authorities, and the CIA is also collaborating in the investigation, it said.
It has also been disclosed that Şanlı entered Turkey via Greece. Three people have been arrested related to the attacks in Ankara and Istanbul on Feb. 2.
The security guard who also died in the attack has been identified as Mustafa Akarsu, 36, Interior Minister Muammer Güler said in a statement.
The suspect, named as Ecevit
Şanlı, spent time in prison in
the past, the reports added.
Today's attack bears remarkable similarity to a suicide bomb attack on a police station in Istanbul’s Sultangazi district on Sept. 11, 2012, that killed a police officer and the attacker.
The suicide bomber was later identified as İbrahim Çuhadar, who was said to be a known member of the outlawed DHKP/C. Çuhadar had previously served eight months in prison for participating in illegal demonstrations.
Seven people, including four police officers and three civilians, were also injured in the bombing at the 75.Yıl Police Station last year.
“The suicide bomber set off the explosives he was wearing after throwing a grenade into the police station, killing one police officer and wounding four others at the entry,” Istanbul police chief Hüseyin Çapkın said soon after the attack.
The dead police officer was identified as Bülent Özkan. It was learned that Özkan was preparing for his wedding, which was scheduled to take place five days after the incident.
Çuhadar reportedly passed the outer gate and walked up a flight of stairs leading to the main entrance of the police station at around 11 a.m. The man then entered through the door and stopped short of an X-ray machine placed just past the entrance. There he lobbed a hand grenade toward the police officers at the reception desk, but the device failed to explode. Özkan managed to fire two shots at Çuhadar but was unable to stop the man from detonating his explosives.
The main entrance was severely damaged in the explosion even though the police station was built with reinforced concrete instead of regular bricks, as the building was thought to be a target in the area, which saw deadly clashes between security forces and protesters in 1995.
First photos of bombed US Embassy in Ankara