Russian ambassador to Turkey shot dead in Ankara

Russian ambassador to Turkey shot dead in Ankara
Russia's leading diplomat in Turkey has been shot dead while visiting an art exhibition in the capital, as tensions run high over Moscow's bombing of Syria.
3 min read
19 December, 2016
The attack came after days of protests in Turkey over Russia's role in Syria [Anadolu]

The Russian ambassador to Ankara died on Monday after being shot in a gun attack in the Turkish capital, the foreign ministry in Moscow has said, describing the incident as a "terrorist act".

"Today in Ankara as a result of an attack the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov received wounds that he died from," ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said in televised comments.

"We qualify what happened as a terrorist act," she added.

Footage shows the ambassador standing at a podium ready to give a speech when he falls to the floor after being shot.

Other footage shows the alleged killer who walks around the body, shouting "Allahu Akhbar" after shooting the man, and then making comments in Turkish about Russia's bombing in Aleppo.

The man wearing a suit and standing behind the ambassador when he comes into view, was assigned to guard the head diplomat, according to some social media reports.

Earlier on Monday, Zakharova said that "an unknown attacker started firing chaotically" during a public event in Ankara, as a result of which the Russian envoy was wounded.

Zakharova added at the time that medics were trying to treat Karlov at the scene but that shooting continued, retracting an earlier report that he had been taken to hospital. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian agencies that Putin had been informed of the incident and would receive a report from the foreign ministry and intelligence chiefs. 

The US State Department has condemned the shooting attack in Ankara.

"We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family," department spokesman John Kirby said.

The US spokesman did not suggest who might have been behind the attack, which witnesses said was carried out by a gunman demanding "revenge" for Aleppo.

The attack came after days of protests in Turkey over Russia's role in Syria, although Moscow and Ankara are now working closely together to evacuate citizens from Aleppo.

Pictures published by the Hurriyet daily showed at least two men in suits lying flat on the ground as another man brandished a gun.

The assailant, who was "eliminated" shortly after the attack, according to Turkish and Russian media, was heard yelling in Turkish: "We're dying in Syria, you should die here".

The attack happened at the Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi, a major art exhibition hall in the Cankaya district of Ankara where most foreign embassies are located including Russia's mission. 

Protesters in Turkey have held Moscow responsible for human rights violations in Aleppo during the brutal bombing and offensive on besieged rebel areas.

Anger has been brewing about Russia's role in the conflict, which figures in September said had cost more than 10,000 Syrian lives.