Upgrades to security at the US embassy in Ankara prevented broader loss of life and damage when a terrorist exploded a suicide vest at a checkpoint on the outer perimeter of the facility earlier Friday, a US official said Friday, DPA reported.
"He was wearing a suicide vest. He exploded it. The guard who was there ... was killed, but two who were in that same building but on the other side of the (bulletproof) glass survived," Nuland said.
A Turkish visitor was injured and in serious condition, and several US and Turkish embassy staff were struck by flying debris and treated at the embassy clinic, Nuland said.
The attack happened on the last day of work for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has spoken to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu and the US ambassador, Francis Ricciardone.
White House spokesman Jay Carney and Nuland have condemned what they called a terrorist attack.
Nuland confirmed that the Turkish minister of the interior said the attacker was a member of an outlawed leftist group, and said the United States would follow the lead of Turkish investigators.
But she conceded that the general threats by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the region were also of concern. "I think obviously, we're going to have to, along with the Turks, look into every single possibility here," she said.
The question of security at embassies around the world has been a hot topic since terrorists attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September and killed the US ambassador and three other US employees.
Congressional hearings into the Benghazi attack cast a shadow over Clinton's final weeks in office as she defended herself against charges that she had not done an adequate job securing the safety of US diplomats.
Nuland emphasized at the press briefing that every US post in the world had reviewed its security after Benghazi. In addition, the upgrades in Ankara had placed exterior access sites "far from the main building."
"It was a result of the way that it was hardened that we lost (only) the one local security guard," Nuland said.
Nuland noted that the 1950s era building that houses the US embassy in Ankara was slated to be completely replaced as soon as Congress approves funding.
The unrest in neighbouring Syria has spilled over into Turkey, prompting NATO to station Patriot defence missiles there at the request of the government. Anti-NATO protests earlier this month targeted German soldiers in Turkey.
Nuland declined to comment on a possible connection between the Patriot missiles and the attack. The Turkish government meanwhile strengthened security measures for US diplomats as well as at the neighbouring German embassy.