As terrorist attacks go in this age, today’s assault on the US embassy in Istanbul was small-scale, but deadly enough. Three Turkish policemen died and another injured, as was a bystander, while three of the four attackers got killed in the exchange. Police pursued a fourth attacker who escaped in a van:
Istanbul prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin said the attackers were armed with pistols and shotguns. Forensic teams were seen examining a shotgun on the ground.
The attack occurred right outside the high-walled consulate compound in‘s Istinye district. Television footage showed four people lying on the ground at the foot of the consulate’s wall before officials removed the bodies.
Yavuz Erkut Yuksel, a bystander, told CNN-Turk television the attackers emerged from a white vehicle and surprised a guard.
“One of them approached a policeman while hiding his gun and shot him in the head,” Yuksel said.
Jim Geraghty spent quite a bit of time in Turkey, and shares his thoughts:
I never went into to the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, but I went to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara many times during my two years in Turkey. The Turkish police stationed there were always friendly and professional. May the three policemen slain today RIP, and the wounded officer and wounded civilian make a full recovery.
The scale of this attack and its method doesn’t sound like an al-Qaeda operation. It sounds more like a small group of fanatics, perhaps not even Islamists, who couldn’t attack the fortress-like structure of the American embassy in any other way. If the police catch the fourth man alive, they’ll know more about the operation and the organization that staged it.