ISTANBUL — A Turkish official says a suicide bomber who struck the American Embassy in Ankara spent four years in prison on terrorism charges before being released for a brain disorder contracted while on hunger strike.
The 40-year-old bomber, Ecevit Sanli, killed himself and a Turkish security guard on Friday in an attack Turkish officials blamed on domestic leftist militants.
Sanli detonated explosives strapped to his body, as well as a hand grenade, inside an embassy gatehouse, Reuters reported. A journalist on her way to visit the ambassador was critically wounded.
It was the second deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic post in five months.
DNA tests confirmed that Sanli, a member of the Turkish leftist group DHKP-C, was the suicide bomber, the city governor's office told Reuters on Saturday.
"The person who detonated the explosives strapped to his body while trying to enter the U.S. Embassy ... was Ecevit Sanli, a militant from the terrorist organization DHKP-C," the governor's office said.
The Turkish official said Saturday that Sanli was arrested in 1997 for membership in the outlawed Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C, and took part in a major hunger strike that led to the deaths of dozens of inmates.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because government rules bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without authorization.
Turkish leftist group DHKP-C claimed responsibility on Saturday for the suicide attack, according to a statement on a website close to the group, Reuters reported.
"Our warrior Alisan Sanli carried out an act of self-sacrifice on Feb 1, 2013, by entering the Ankara embassy of the United States, murderer of the peoples of the world," the statement on "The People's Cry" website said.
The statement reported by Reuters was posted next to what it said was a picture of the bomber, dressed in a black beret and military-style clothes with what appeared to be an explosives belt strapped around his waist.
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