The suicide bomber who struck the U.S. Embassy in Ankara spent several years in prison on terrorism charges but was released on probation after being diagnosed with a hunger strike-related brain disorder, officials said Saturday.
The bomber, identified as 40-year-old leftist militant Ecevit Sanli, killed himself and a Turkish security guard Friday, in what U.S. officials said was a terrorist attack. Sanli was armed with enough TNT to blow up a two-story building and also detonated a hand grenade, officials said.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that police believe the bomber was connected with his nation’s outlawed leftist militant group Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C. And Saturday, DHKP-C claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on a website linked to the group. It said Sanli carried out the act of “self-sacrifice” on behalf of the group.
Turkey’s private NTV television, meanwhile, said police detained three people Saturday who may be connected to the U.S. Embassy attack during operations in Ankara and Istanbul.