Car Bomb Targets Turkish Capital, Ankara: Explosion Kills 32, Injures 100+ in Kizilay Area

Posted: 5:40 pm EDT
Updated: 6:58 pm EDT
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Media reports says that a huge explosion hit the Turkish capital of Ankara on March 13, killing 27 people and wounding at least 75 others. The blast happened just before 6.45 pm local time at Kizilay Square near Guven Park.   Latest reports put those killed at 32 people and the wounded at over a hundred individuals. Several vehicles were also reportedly destroyed or damaged in the explosion, which took place in the Kizilay area of Ankara, about 25 minutes walk from the U.S. embassy.  This is the third bombing in the country, and the second one in Ankara this year alone. On February 27, 2016, a car bomb targeting the Turkish military in Ankara also killed 29 people.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara has sent out an emergency message informing all U.S. citizens of “a bombing near Kizilay Square.”  It says it is working to gather more details and urged citizens “to avoid the Kizilay/Ulus area and follow media reports for the latest developments.” Embassy Ankara previously issued a security message to Americans in Turkey warning of a potential terrorist threat in the Bahcelievler area of Ankara.

 

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And an important note, given speculations about the prior warning issued by the embassy:

 

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Barbara Robbins Memorialized in AFSA’s Plaque, Now Officially Claimed by the CIA

WaPo has an interesting piece on Barbara Robbins, a slain CIA secretary’s life and death.  She is listed in AFSA’s Memorial Plaque as a State Department employee killed in the line of duty.  Her name was apparently added in 1965.

Screen capture from AFSA’s Memorial Plaque

Last year, during the CIA’s annual memorial ceremony, then Director Leon E. Panetta paid tribute to Ms. Robbins, the first American woman killed in the Vietnam War, and the first Agency officer killed in Vietnam. Via YouTube/CIA: “CIA officer Barbara A. Robbins was killed on March 30, 1965, in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. Her name was added to the CIA’s Book of honor, which lists Agency officers who died while serving their country.”

After 46 years, the CIA has now publicly acknowledged her as one of their own.

Excerpt below from the WaPo article:

The CIA director revealed only a few details about the 21-year-old woman, a secretary among spies. In the agency’s annual memorial service for employees killed on the job, then-Director Leon E. Panetta announced that a new name had been inscribed with calligraphy inside the CIA’s Book of Honor: Barbara Annette Robbins, who had volunteered to go to Saigon during the Vietnam War and died in a 1965 car bombing at the U.S. Embassy.

The private ceremony inside the agency’s main lobby last year marked the first time the CIA publicly acknowledged Robbins as one of their own. But the slain secretary holds enough historic titles to make her an object of curiosity within the CIA. Robbins was the first woman at the male-dominated CIA killed in the line of duty. She is the youngest CIA employee ever killed. And, according to Panetta, she was also the first American woman to die in the Vietnam War.
[…]
In 1961, Robbins headed off to a secretary’s school at Colorado State University and, after two years, somehow got recruited by the CIA. She wanted to combat the rise of communism. When she went to Washington in 1963, Warren said the family knew she was working for the agency. But they thought her Vietnam posting was with the State Department.
[…]
The car bomb killed Robbins, another American and several Vietnamese, and injured at least 100 more. The secretary’s name and photo were splashed across the country’s newspapers: the Washington Daily News, Stars and Stripes, the New York Daily News — all describing her as a State Department employee.

Her body was flown back to Denver, and a funeral was held April 3, 1965. President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of State Dean Rusk each sent sympathy telegrams to the Robbins family.

That year, the State Department held a ceremony honoring Robbins, placing her name on a plaque in its main lobby.

Continue reading, Barbara Robbins: A slain CIA secretary’s life and death.

Click here to view some 20 photos related to Barbara Robbins, including old State Department, US Army and family photographs.

There is another interesting item in the WaPo article.  In the late morning on March 30, 1965, the CIA secretaries inside the U.S. embassy heard loud pop-pop sounds outside. Four of them ran to the deputy chief of station’s office to peer out the windows. “The enormous thud propelled everyone backward. The iron grates and windows shot out into the office like knives. The boxy air-conditioning units blew into the offices like little bombs.”

Thirty-three years later, on August 7, 1998, in the aftermath of a truck bomb at US Embassy Nairobi, the Accountability Review Board (ARB) report cited a similar window scene: “In the several seconds time lapse* between the gunshots/grenade explosion and the detonation of the truck bomb, many embassy employees went to the windows to observe what was happening. Those who did were either killed or seriously injured.”

Domani Spero