Australian ambassador narrowly escapes Ankara attack

Australian ambassador narrowly escapes Ankara attack

Australian ambassador narrowly escapes Ankara attack

AA Photo

Australian Ambassador to Turkey James Larsen was only meters away when a suicide car bomb exploded in the heart of the capital Ankara on March 13, and managed to escape the blast unscathed.

Larsen was with his 12-year-old daughter when the bomb exploded, driving her home from a horse riding lesson, Embassy officials told the Hürriyet Daily News on March 14.

In remarks delivered to Australia’s ABC radio shortly after the attack, Larsen gave a first-hand account of the attack, describing the chaos on one of the city’s busiest roads as “very distressing.”

“We were stationary at some traffic lights and the explosion took place just on the other side of the traffic lights,” Larsen was quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald as saying.

“As is always the case with these instances, you hear a pop and then of course we saw flames shooting up and a bus and car catching alight and flames spreading out. I said [to my daughter] make sure you put your head down low in the car on the floor so she was away from any glass. I moved the car to the side of the roadway and called the office to make sure we initiated our crisis procedures,” he added. 

The veteran diplomat, meanwhile, praised the Turkish security emergency services saying they were “very, very quick” to respond and deal with the crowds.

Having been posted to Ankara in February 2014, Larsen is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and was most recently Principal Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, a position he held from March 2012 to September 2013. 

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, meanwhile, said she had spoken to the “slightly shaken” ambassador. “He likened it to a bomb going off in the middle of one of Sydney’s busiest streets ... It was a horrific sight,” Bishop said.