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“I think we need to let the Turkish side investigate,” said Mrs. Nuland. “We will be guided by that investigation in terms of what we learn about who the perpetrators were.”

“We do not know at this point who is responsible or the motivations behind the attack,” added White House spokesman Jay Carney.

In Turkey, Mr. Erdogan said that DNA testing was being conducted to identify the bomber with more certainty and that results would likely be announced on Saturday.

‘Terrorist attack’

The bombing triggered fresh memories of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The White House, which was criticized for initially downplaying the role of terrorism in the Benghazi incident, wasted no time in labeling Friday’s assault in Turkey as a terrorist attack.

Asked by a reporter if the attack by a suicide bomber in Ankara was a terrorist act, White House press secretary Jay Carney said it was “an excellent question.”

“A suicide bombing on the perimeter of an embassy is by definition an act of terror,” Mr. Carney said. “It is a terrorist attack.”

The attack featured a lone suicide bomber who detonated his explosives at a security check-point entrance inside the U.S. embassy grounds at 1:13 in the afternoon, according to Mrs. Nuland.

She said a local guard hired by the embassy was killed.