Report: Two suspects in custody after shots fired at U.S. embassy in Turkey

August 20, 2018

Report: Two suspects in custody after shots fired at U.S. embassy in Turkey Christopher Lyzcen / Shutterstock.com

Shots were fired from a moving car at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey on Monday morning, according to a report from the Associated Press. 

No injuries were reported.

Two arrested following “security incident”

According to reports, six bullets were fired at the embassy from a vehicle that drove by at around 5:30 a.m. local time on Monday. Three of the bullets missed; the others hit an iron door and a reinforced window.

Embassy spokesman David Gainer confirmed the apparent attack on Monday and thanked Turkish police for their “rapid response.”

“We can confirm a security incident took place at the U.S. Embassy early this morning,” Gainer said. “We have no reports of any injuries and we are investigating,”

The AP reported that 39-year-old Ahmet Celikten and 38-year-old Osman Gundas were detained following the incident. A 9-millimeter gun and “a vehicle with Ankara license plates” were also seized by officials, who said both men confessed to the crime.

Celikten and Gundas both reportedly have criminal histories. Celikten had apparently escaped prison, and according to the AP, “Gundas had several crimes under his belt, including car theft, drugs, threats, and injury.”

Motive unclear

Speaking to reporters, Turkey’s interior minister Suleyman Soylu said that the suspects’ motive is unclear at this time.

“Is it a provocation following recent events,” Soylu wondered aloud, “or is it a common crime, or is it an attempt to provoke by dressing it up as a petty crime?”

Other Turkish officials have speculated the former. Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, called the attack “an attempt to create chaos,” and another member of Erdoğan’s party referred to the incident as “clear provocation.”

But this isn’t the first time U.S. forces have been attacked in Turkey. The U.S. consulate in Istanbul was attacked in 2015, and in 2008, a shooting occurred outside that post. Additionally, a suicide bombing occurred outside the Ankara embassy in 2013.

Growing tensions

Monday’s attack comes amid growing tensions between Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump has recently put sanctions in place against Turkey “in response to the imprisonment of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who has been held for nearly two years on espionage and terror-related charges,” according to TIME magazine, charges that Brunson denies.

Trump’s sanctions did considerable damage to Turkey’s already vulnerable economy, pushing the value of the Turkish lira down to 38 percent less than it was worth in January of this year. The lira is currently worth around 15 cents in American currency.

Erdoğan hasn’t taken Trump’s sanctions lightly. In addition to attempting to impose sanctions on American goods, the Turkish president said earlier this month: “Those who think they can make Turkey give in with the foreign exchange rate will soon see they are wrong.”

Erdoğan went on to assert that attacks on the country’s economy will be taken seriously, arguing: “There is no difference between the direct attacks on our call to prayer and our flag and the attack on our economy.”

In observance of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara was set to close around noon on Monday. It will remain closed for the rest of the week.


Robert Ayers

Robert Ayers is a writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Quinnipiac University and a JD from the University of Connecticut.