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Turkish Left-Wing Group Claims Responsibility For U.S. Embassy Blast

Feb 2, 2013

A radical left-wing group is calling Friday's attack on the U.S. Embassy in Turkey "an act of self-sacrifice" against the U.S. The suicide bombing killed an embassy guard and injured several others.

On Saturday, a website connected to the group displayed a photo of the suicide bomber whom Turkish authorities have identified through DNA tests as Ecevit Sanli.

NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul:

"Turkish officials identified the suicide bomber who killed a security guard and critically wounded a Turkish journalist at an embassy entrance as a member of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Front. The group has no previous history of using suicide bombers."

Officials say Sanli had just over 13 pounds of TNT and a grenade when he approached the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.

The Associated Press is reporting that Sanli had "spent several years in prison on terrorism charges but was released on probation after being diagnosed with a hunger strike-related brain disorder."

He was released on probation in 2001. According to the AP, authorities say he then fled Turkey but was "convicted in absentia in 2002 for belonging to a terrorist group and attempting to overthrow the government." Officials continue to investigate how he returned to Turkey. He may have come first from Germany and then entered through Greece.

Meanwhile, in Turkey's capital, mourners gathered for the funeral of Mustafa Akarsu, the guard killed in Friday's blast.

On Friday, U.S. officials called the explosion a "terrorist attack." State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the explosion happened at a checkpoint on the perimeter of the U.S. Embassy compound.

The State Department lists the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front as a terrorist organization.

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