Turkey: Shots fired at US embassy in Ankara amid deepening row

Turkish authorities detained two men suspected of shooting from a moving car at the US Embassy in the capital Ankara on Monday, an attack coinciding with increased tensions between the NATO allies.

Assailants fired six rounds at an embassy security gate from a passing white vehicle at about 5am (02:00 GMT), three bullets hitting an iron door and a window, the Ankara governor’s office said. There were no casualties.

The embassy was closed this week for a public holiday to mark the Eid al-Adha festival.

Two men in their late 30s were detained and a car and pistol seized. The men confessed to the shooting, the office said, and both suspects had criminal records and their links were being investigated.

“We thank the Turkish National Police and the government of Turkey for their fast and professional action in apprehending two individuals who allegedly attacked our mission this morning. We appreciate their support and protection,” the US Embassy said on Twitter.

The attack coincided with a deepening row between Ankara and Washington over the trial of a US pastor in Turkey.

Ties have been severely strained over the case of Andrew Brunson, leading the US to impose sanctions and increase tariffs that sent the Turkish lira tumbling last week.

‘Attempt to provoke’?

Questions remain about the motive for Monday’s shooting. 

Suleyman Soylu, Turkey’s interior minister, said: “Is it a provocation following recent events, or is it a common crime, or is it an attempt to provoke by dressing it up as a petty crime?”

An official in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party said the attack was a “clear provocation”, adding foreign diplomatic missions are guests of the country.

“The utmost sensitivity will be shown to ensure their security,” said Omer Celik. “Turkey is a safe country.”

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted the drive-by shooting was “an attempt to create chaos”.

The US Embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul have been the target of attacks and have faced numerous security threats in the past.

“It [the attack] shows how the antipathy is between Ankara and Washington as the diplomatic dispute continues to rumble,” Al Jazeera’s Sonia Gallego, reporting from Istanbul, said.

“It would appear to be an attack … designed to usher a warning or demonstrate the displeasure that there is towards the United States at this moment.”

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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