Travel warning issued to Americans in Turkey
July 11, 2008
The U.S. Embassy in Turkey issued a travel warning for residents going to or living in Turkey after an attack Wednesday at the U.S. Consulate’s office in Istanbul.
"As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists may seek softer targets," reads the embassy’s "warden message," posted Wednesday evening. "These can include facilities where Americans and Westerners are known to live or congregate, especially hotels, restaurants, housing compounds, places of worship, and resort areas."
On Thursday, the private Dogan news agency in Turkey reported that police caught a man who fled the scene amid the chaos after Wednesday’s attack. Police said his car was found earlier on Thursday.
There was no immediate confirmation of the report.
On Wednesday, four gunmen attacked a police guard post about 75 feet from the entrance of the consulate, setting off a gunbattle that left three attackers and three Turkish police officers dead. The attack sent the consulate into a lockdown, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a Tuesday news briefing, posted on the department’s Web site. No U.S. Consulate personnel were wounded.
U.S. military officials in Turkey immediately accounted for all their personnel after Wednesday’s attack at the consulate, an Incirlik Air Base official said. Beyond the accountability recall, no changes have occurred there.
"We made sure everyone was accounted for and made sure everyone knew about the event," said Tech. Sgt. Raymond Bowden, a spokesman for the base, home of the 39th Air Base Wing. "Neither Incirlik’s joint mission, nor its security, has been altered by yesterday’s events in Istanbul," Bowden said.
About 5,000 people make up the air base’s population, of which roughly 1,500 are military members. The base also serves six "geographically separated units," smaller installations or outposts throughout the country, including the facility in Izmir, home of the 425th Air Base group.
Incirlik is about 600 miles southeast of Istanbul, and about 300 miles south of Turkey’s capital of Ankara.
Officials reminded personnel of safety precautions, such as avoiding crowded areas and not making themselves a target — advice echoed by the embassy message."U.S. citizens are urged to maintain a high level of vigilance and to maintain a low profile throughout Turkey," the embassy message reads.
"We reiterate Department of State advice to American citizens to take prudent steps to ensure their personal safety. Remain aware of surroundings, listen to news reports, avoid crowds and demonstrations, and vary times and routes for all travel."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.