State Dept. Warns of More Turkey Attacks

Published November 20, 2003

| Associated Press

U.S. officials on Thursday advised Americans in Turkey that there could be more attacks against American and Western interests in the country.

There was no admonition to leave Turkey, but the State Department (search) advised Americans to avoid nonessential travel there. The U.S. consulate remained open in Istanbul, where truck bombs were exploded at a London-based bank and at the British consulate.

There were no known U.S. casualties in the two blasts, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said.

Americans in the city were advised to stay away from the bomb sites because of the possibility of fires, gas line explosions, and collapsing buildings.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (search) offered Britain emergency use of the former U.S. consulate in Istanbul, which was vacated when a new consulate was built.

The U.S. Embassy staff in Ankara, the Turkish capital, was donating blood to replenish Turkish supplies, Ereli said.

The United States had no information more attacks were imminent after the bombing of two synagogues in Istanbul on Saturday, Ereli said. Under law, he said, Americans would have been alerted to a potential threat.

"We just have to stand united and remain determined to confront their savagery," Ereli said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell (search), in Britain with President Bush, telephoned condolences to Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and conveyed them also to the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

"We have offered any assistance needed to respond to these attacks and to find the perpetrators," Powell said in a statement.

Daniel Benjamin, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the terrorists "have increased the sense of vulnerability of people" in Istanbul. "Those watching around the world cannot fail to feel increasingly threatened themselves," he added.

Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project (search), a research effort at CSIS, said, "Turkey has been dragged into the front lines of the war between Islamic jihadists and the West."

The American Foreign Service Association, the union of foreign service officers, said in a statement that "this brutal attack on our Turkish and British allies underlines the vulnerability of all diplomats in the face of terrorism."

The groups' president, John Limbert, said complete protection for U.S. personnel was impossible. But, he said, "The U.S. government must protect these dedicated public servants as well as possible, beginning with dedicating sufficient resources to the effort."

At the Pentagon, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Turkish Gen. Ilker Basbug affirmed strong U.S.-Turkish ties.

Basbug, deputy chairman of Turkey's military general staff, said the bombings would not change Turkey's role in the war on terrorism. "We will overcome these difficulties," he said.

Wolfowitz said "this kind of horrible act only brings people closer together."

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