Nightly News   |  February 01, 2013

Blast hits US embassy in Turkey

A suicide bomber blew himself up at an entrance to the U.S. Embassy compound in Ankara, Turkey, on Friday. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>>> overseas now to another big story still developing this evening. with the attack in benghazi last september 11th still fresh in the minds of a lot of americans, there's now been another terrorist attack on a u.s. outpost overseas. this time the u.s. embassy in ankara, turkey, where we find our chief foreign correspondent, richard engel tonight. richard, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. the american flag here at the embassy has been lowered to half staff. the attack took place just up this road behind me, which has now been closed by turkish police . chaos of police and ambulances in one of ankara's most fortified districts. embassy row . on one stretcher, a well-known turkish journalist. she had come to have tea with the ambassador. she was at a visitor's gate in a security screening room when a suicide bomber came in and reached for his waist. a guard yelled "bomb" and then it exploded. turkish media identified the bomber who killed himself and a turkish guard.

>> right now we are all dealing with our sadness at the loss of our fellow member of our embassy. we salute his bravery.

>> reporter: the turkish government says the bomber was part of a radical leftist group that accuses turkey of being an american puppet of imperialism. the group hates u.s. influence and that turkey is part of nato, which recently deployed patriot missiles here. this was not al qaeda , but marxist, the government says, who just last september bombed a police station in istanbul. no matter who was responsible, u.s. officials perhaps gun shy after benghazi were quick to call it terrorism.

>> what was characterized as a terrorist attack .

>> a suicide bombing on the perimeter of an embassy is by definition an act of terror. it is a terrorist attack .

>> reporter: tonight, u.s. diplomats are cautioning americans to be vigilant in turkey, even though it has been considered one of the safest countries in the middle east . an embassy guard was killed, but the suicide bomber never managed to get beyond the outer checkpoint. the embassy building itself wasn't breached, brian.

>> richard engel on the job for us in turkey tonight. richard, thank you.