Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was reportedly shot dead by an off-duty Turkish police officer at an art gallery Monday evening in Ankara, Turkey.
Ambassador Andrey Karlov, 62, was shot at close range while he prepared to give a speech at the crowded gallery.
The gunman, whom the U.K. Mirror said the Turkish media have identified as Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, allegedly said the shooting was retaliation for the crisis in Aleppo.
Aleppo, once an important industrial and financial center in Syria, has been torn by strife since 2012, when rebels against the government of President Bashar Assad took over the eastern portion of the city, International Business Times reported. Earlier this year Russia began backing pro-Assad airstrikes that devastated much of eastern Aleppo and precipitated a humanitarian crisis. The Syrian government regained full control last week.
The assassination comes at a bad time in relations between the two countries.
The assassination of Karlov comes just one day before Turkish, Russian and Iranian officials were to meet in Moscow for a discussion of the Syria crisis, Reuters reported. The two countries have repeatedly clashed over Russia’s involvement in Syria, The New York Times reported. Also, the shooting comes one year after Turkey shot down a Russian bomber plane near the Syrian-Turkish border. Turkey finally apologized for that incident in July.
Altıntaş, 22, reportedly a police officer, allegedly shouted, “Allahu akbar!” (“God is most great!”) during the scene, and he also said, “We die in Aleppo, you die here.”
Witnesses at the scene told the Russian TASS news agency that several shots were fired, reported the U.K. Daily Mail.
The gunman also said, “Whoever has a share in this oppression will pay for it one by one. Only death will take me away from here.”
Turkish security forces reportedly fatally shot the gunman at the scene, according to Breitbart.
The attack comes after protests in Turkey over Russia’s role in Syria.
The Mirror reported that three other people were wounded during the incident.
Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described the shooting as a terror attack, reported CNN.
“We are currently in contact with Turkish authorities, who are assuring us that a thorough, comprehensive investigation will be conducted,” Zakharova said in remarks broadcast on Russian television. “Murderers will be punished. Terrorism won’t sustain. We’ll fight it.”
The Mirror reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin was holding an emergency meeting after the shooting.
Several witnesses captured images and video of the attack.
The moment before: The Russian Ambassador to Turkey looks at a painting at a gallery in Ankara earlier today. Behind him, his assassin… pic.twitter.com/sZyJsTnAYo
— Tunku Varadarajan (@tunkuv) December 19, 2016
Watch footage of the incident video below. It contains scenes that some may find disturbing.
Another view of the horrific scene. It is also graphic.
— Грани.Ру (@GraniTweet) December 19, 2016
This is a sad development in the continuing strain that exists between Ankara and Moscow.
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