By Valentinas Mite/Ron Synovitz
Baghdad, 14 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. military officials say a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives while driving past the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad today, killing himself and injuring at least two Iraqi security guards.
RFE/RL correspondent Valentinas Mite reported from the site of the attack that numerous witnesses say at least two people were killed and at least eight were injured.
But U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Peter Mansoor told reporters shortly after the explosion that the only person killed was the attacker. "A vehicle passing by the front of the Turkish Embassy exploded, killing the driver and injuring two people inside the embassy," Mansoor said. "One was a Turkish staff member and the other was a local national Iraqi, who was working in the building. Both of them will be fine. They have been transported to local hospitals for medical treatment. There were no other casualties that we know of."
The attack comes just a week after the Turkish parliament approved the deployment of Turkish troops to Iraq as part of the U.S.-led stabilization effort. The number of Turkish troops expected to go into Iraq has not been officially announced. But unofficial estimates are that Turkey will contribute between 3,000 and 12,000 soldiers.
RFE/RL's Mite described the scene outside of the embassy shortly after the attack: "Just in front of my eyes I see two American helicopters. I see American soldiers. They have set a [security] perimeter around the [Turkish] Embassy. There were some rumors that banks would be attacked before tomorrow's introduction of a new [Iraqi] currency. But it's not a bank that was attacked. It was the Turkish Embassy. But the building seems to be more or less normal. I see no destruction."
One Iraqi man who lives near the embassy and was injured by the explosion told RFE/RL that he saw more than one dead body in front of the embassy. But that and other similar witness accounts could not be immediately confirmed.
U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Mansoor told our correspondent that extra security precautions had been taken around the Turkish Embassy just three days ago, following the announcement in Ankara of the pending Turkish deployments. Those precautions included the installation of concrete barriers and the posting of additional security guards around the building. Mansoor said the extra security measures prevented more damage from being done to the embassy building.
Today's attack is the second suicide car bombing in the Iraqi capital in three days. On 12 October, a suicide bomber drove a car through a checkpoint near the Baghdad Hotel and detonated explosives about 70 meters from the building.
Seven of the 24 members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council were living at that hotel before the attack. Reports say U.S. State Department officials and U.S. military officials also had offices in the Baghdad Hotel.