The suicide bomber who detonated an explosive device at the entrance of the US Embassy in Ankara on Friday, killing at least two people, including himself, was a member of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), according to initial findings of the police shortly after the explosion.
Later on in the day, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the DHKP/C had carried out the terrorist attack.
The attacker was identified as 40-year-old Ecevit Şanlı. In an address to the press, Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Güler said Şanlı had previously been imprisoned after staging an attack on a military facility in 1997.
The attacker was released in 2001 due to bad health.
Gültekin Avcı, a retired prosecutor, said he was certain it was a DHKP/C attack the moment he heard of it. “I think this is a response to dozens of DHKP/C members who were arrested last month. The latest operations were a huge blow to the group. The police uncovered the structure of the organization when materials regarding DHKP/C activities were sent to Turkey last year by Belgian authorities.” He said groups such as the Association for Inmates' Families' Solidarity (TAYAD) and the Contemporary Lawyers' Association had acted as the legal extensions of the group in Turkey.
Police detained nearly 100 DHKP/C members in January, and 55 of them were arrested pending trial on accusations of being members of a terrorist organization. Police seized a large number of documents from the addresses of the suspects, which revealed the group's plans to assassinate politicians, judges, prosecutors and police officers.
The DHKP/C, considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, has carried out nearly a dozen terrorist attacks over the past seven months in Turkey, including Friday's embassy attack. Intelligence reports suggest that the DHKP/C uses militants who suffer from a terminal illness in suicide attacks.
For instance, Nurgül Acar, a DHKP/C militant who killed a policeman in Gaziosmanpaşa in December 2012, had breast cancer. Nebiha Avcı, another DHKP/C militant, staged an attack also in December of last year in İstanbul's Yenibosna neighborhood. She was a kidney disease patient. And İbrahim Çuhadar, who killed a police officer in İstanbul's Sultangazi neighborhood in September 2012, was also suffering from cancer.
Far-left groups, far-right groups and separatist terrorists have all carried out attacks in Turkey in the past.
The main domestic security threat comes from the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union and Turkey, but the PKK has focused its campaign largely on domestic targets.
The most serious attacks of this kind in Turkey occurred in November 2003, when car bombs shattered two synagogues, killing 30 people and wounding 146. Authorities said the attack bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda.
Part of the HSBC Bank headquarters was destroyed and the British Consulate was damaged in two more explosions that killed a further 32 people a week later.