WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News
Senior U.S. administration officials and politicians in Congress have voiced gratitude and appreciation for the courage and sacrifice of the three Turkish police officers who were killed Wednesday during a stand-off with terrorists in front of the U.S. consulate in Istanbul. The officers "acted with extraordinary courage in repelling this attack," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters hours after Wednesday's attack on the consulate. "We are grateful for their sacrifice and service. The Turkish police responded quickly and effectively. We deeply appreciate their courage in protecting American diplomats.The three police officers and three attackers were killed in the attack on the police post in front of the consulate, and the assailants failed to enter the diplomatic building.McCormack said Turkey and the United States would continue to stand firmly together to confront the threat of terrorism, as they had done in the past.He said he would not rule out an al-Qaeda role in the attack, but that he had no information to back this."I think certainly at this point, one can't rule that out. But I also can't support, at this point, those suspicions," he said. "We're continuing our efforts to work with the Turkish government to determine who is responsible for it.Traveling to Tbilisi, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that "Turkish authorities reacted quickly and we appreciate that."Rice said she did not know whether the consulate in Istanbul was the intended target or who was responsible, according to an Associated Press report.
Democratic Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the powerful U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that "the United States owes a profound debt of gratitude to the three Turkish police officers who lost their lives protecting the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul.I extend my deep sympathies to the families of those killed in this attack, and hope they will take some solace in the fact that these brave officers helped prevent what could have been a far greater loss of life," Biden said in a written statement.Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler, Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield and Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger also released a statement, condemning the "heinous" attack and praising the killed police officers."We would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of the three Turkish officers tragically killed in this attack and express our admiration and gratitude for the bravery displayed by these individuals in defending the U.S. consulate," they said. "It is critical that the United States stand with our ally Turkey as we work together to bring those individuals responsible for these unconscionable criminal acts to justice."