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Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey Shot Dead in Ankara

Moscow calls incident 'act of terrorism'

Mevlut Mert Altintasat after shooting Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov in Ankara, Dec. 19, 2016 / AP
• December 19, 2016 11:41 am

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Andrey Karlov, Russia's ambassador to Turkey, was shot dead in Ankara on Monday, according to multiple reports that were later confirmed by officials.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed to reporters later Monday that Karlov had died from wounds sustained in the shooting, which took place at a photo gallery in Ankara one day before planned talks between Russia, Turkey, and Iran on the ongoing conflict in Syria.

"This is a tragic day in the history of Russian diplomacy. Today, Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov died after being shot at during a public event in Ankara," Zakharova said, calling the shooting an "act of terrorism," according to Russian media reports.

Videos that have emerged of the shooting show the attacker wearing a black suit and tie and wielding a gun. A witness told Reuters that the gunman was standing behind the ambassador while he delivered a speech at the photo exhibit and brandished a gun when he "shot the ambassador from behind."

Three other individuals were reportedly injured and taken to a hospital in Ankara. Police later shot dead the gunman, who Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu identified as 22-year-old Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş.

The mayor of Ankara said the shooter was a Turkish policeman, according to AFP, as have other reports, citing Turkish security sources.

The Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said earlier that the ambassador had been hospitalized with a gunshot wound but gave no indication of his condition.

Turkish media reported that the ambassador was seriously injured in the attack and taken to a hospital for treatment. Between 15 and 20 shots were heard at the art gallery during the attack, according to Turkey's Hurriyet daily newspaper. The gunman is said to have been shot and killed by police.

A witness told AFP that the gunman shouted "Aleppo" and "revenge" during the attack, which took place when Karlov was visiting the opening of a photo exhibit called "Russia as Seen by the Turks."

"Don't forget Aleppo! Don't forget Syria! As long as our brothers are not safe, you will not enjoy safety," the gunman said, according to footage of the shooting. "Whoever has a share in this oppression will pay for it one-by-one."

"Only death will take me away from here," he added, also shouting in Arabic "God is great" and "We are the one who pledged allegiance to Muhammad, to wage jihad."

Photos circulating on social media purportedly capturing the incident showed several individuals on the ground in what appears to be an art gallery. Video of the shooting has also emerged on social media.

The incident occurred one day before planned talks in Moscow between Russia, Iran, and Turkey on the future of Syria.

The Pentagon and State Department each condemned the assassination on Monday.

"The United States condemns the assassination today in Ankara of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones, the Russian people, and with the other victims who were injured in this shooting," Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

"We stand ready to offer assistance to Russia and Turkey as they investigate this despicable attack, which was also an assault on the right of all diplomats to safely and securely advance and represent their nations around the world," Kerry said.

This post will be updated as further information becomes available.

Published under: Russia, Turkey