Bulgaria expresses condolences, condemns suicide bombing attack at US embassy in Ankara

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov sent letters of condolences to his counterparts in the United States and Turkey, John Kerry and Ahmet Davutoğlu, after the suicide bombing terrorist attack which cost two lives outside the US embassy building in Turkey on February 1 2013

“I learnt with deep sadness of the explosion today outside the US Embassy in Ankara,” Mladenov said in the letter, according to a Foreign Ministry statement in Sofia.

“The Republic of Bulgaria condemns all forms of terrorism. Any act of violence against innocent people is completely unacceptable,” Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister said. “Please convey my deepest condolences and sympathies to the relatives of the dead and the injured,” Mladenov said.

A Turkish security guard at the embassy died in the attack.

No group has said it carried out the attack, but Interior Minister Muammer Guler said the bomber, who also died, was a far-left militant, the BBC said. Guler suggested that the bomber might have been a member of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front.

The US state department said on February 1 that the US was working with Turkish national police to make a full assessment of damage and casualties and begin an investigation.

A reporter for the Voice of America’s Turkish service said the guard was killed near an X-ray machine at a checkpoint. The reporter said security cameras were not working at the time because the power had been down in the area.

“Right now we are all dealing with our sadness at the loss of our fellow member of our embassy,” said U.S. ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone. “We salute his bravery, his service to Turkey and to Turkey-American friendship. Our hearts go out to his family.”

Police cordoned off the area, where several other embassies are located. Bomb experts and police were taking precautions against the possibility of another attack.

The attack is the second on US diplomatic offices in Turkey in five years. In 2008, three gunmen and three policemen were killed in an attack outside the US consulate in Istanbul.

US embassy officials have been on alert since terrorists killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya, at the American consulate in Benghazi on September 11. Earlier that day, anti-American protesters angry about a U.S.-made film about the Prophet Muhammad stormed the US embassy in Cairo. Yemenis offended by that film also broke into the US embassy compound in Sana’a.

Last week, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said the deadly attack on the US mission in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi prompted her to take urgent steps to improve security at diplomatic posts worldwide.

Clinton said she has responded to those incidents by asking for hundreds of additional Marine security guards to be sent to vulnerable diplomatic posts. She testified in a Senate hearing last week that she has designated more than 20 US missions around the world as high-risk sites requiring tighter security.

A labour union that represents American diplomats said in an interview with VOA that sending more Marines to guard high-risk missions is a positive step.

“Having them there in an emergency can also buy you time and can certainly help you to prevail or escape or minimize the damage, so we welcome that,” said American Foreign Service Association president Susan Johnson. “But the Marines are not out there yet.”

However, some American diplomats worry that new security rules ordered by Washington also could make it harder for their counterparts to do their jobs.

Johnson said many diplomats have been speaking up in favor of flexibility.

“Benghazi is bringing the issue to the forefront. I am seeing a bit more pushback from the Foreign Service against calls to eliminate all risk, not travel anywhere and get 64 permissions to do so,” she said.

(Photo: European People’s Party group in European Parliament)



The Sofia Globe staff

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