Several gunshots were fired from a vehicle at the United States Embassy in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday, hitting the window of a security office but causing no casualties.

The attack coincided with a deepening row between Ankara and Washington over the trial of a US pastor in Turkey.

A police officer told Reuters news agency at the scene the drive-by shooting occurred around 5am (02:00 GMT) and that nobody was hurt. The embassy is closed this week for a public holiday to mark the Eid al-Adha festival.

Police teams were searching for the assailants, who fled in a white car after the attack, private news channel CNN Turk said. Four or five gunshots were heard, it reported.

Broadcaster Haberturk showed police teams inspecting one of the entrances to the embassy and damage caused by a gunshot could be seen in one window. Empty cartridges were found at the scene.

Suleyman Soylu, Turkey’s interior minister, said police and intelligence units were hunting for the car and suspects, stressing their motive would be established only after they were apprehended.

‘Attempt to provoke’?

Soylu speculated, however: “Is it a provocation following recent events, or is it a common crime, or is it an attempt to provoke by dressing it up as a petty crime?”

A top official in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party said the attack was a “clear provocation”, adding foreign diplomatic missions are guests of the country.

“The utmost sensitivity will be shown to ensure their security,” said Omer Celik. “Turkey is a safe country.”

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted the drive-by shooting was “an attempt to create chaos”

Ties between Ankara and Washington have been severely strained over the case of an imprisoned US pastor Andrew Brunson, leading the US to impose sanctions and increased tariffs that sent the Turkish lira tumbling last week.

The US embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul have been the targets of attacks and have faced numerous security threats in the past.

“It [the attack] shows how the antipathy is between Ankara and Washington as the diplomatic dispute continues to rumble,” Al Jazeera’s Sonia Gallego, reporting from Istanbul, said.

“It would appear to be an attack … designed to usher a warning or demonstrate the displeasure that there is towards the United States at this moment.”

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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