Gunman Who Shot Russian Ambassador to Turkey Was an Off Duty Cop
“Remember Syria, remember Aleppo”, the gunman shouted over the dead body of Andrei Karlov.
The Russian ambassador to Ankara was shot in an attack at an art gallery in the Turkish capital on Monday and the Russian RIA news agency said he had succumbed to his wounds.
The Anadolu news agency said the gunman had been “neutralised” soon after the attack, which appeared to mark one of the most serious spillovers of the Syria conflict in Turkey. Relations between Moscow and Ankara have long been fraught over the conflict, the two supporting opposing sides.
The gunman was an off-duty police officer who worked in the Turkish capital, two security sources told Reuters. He has been identified as Mert Altintas, member of the special ops unit in Ankara.
Video footage of the attack showed the assailant, in black suit, standing over the fallen diplomat with gun in hand, shouting, “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria.
Turkey will not allow Monday's shooting of Russia's ambassador to Ankara to "cast a shadow" over Turkish-Russian friendship, the Turkey's foreign ministry said on Monday, expressing deep sadness and condemning the "lowly terrorist attack".
President Vladimir Putin said the killing of Russia's ambassador to Turkey was a provocation to try to spoil Russia-Turkey ties and derail Moscow's attempts to find, with Iran and Turkey, a solution for the Syria crisis.
The Russian foreign ministry confirmed the attack as Ambassador Andrei Karlov made a speech at the opening of a photography exhibition. Hurriyet newspaper said Turkish special forces had surrounded the building. NTV said three other people were wounded.
Russia and Turkey have been involved in the conflict in Syria. Turkey has been a staunch opponent of President Bashar al-Assad while Russia has deployed troops and its air force in support of the Syrian leader. Over two million Syrian refugees have settled in Turkey.
Tensions have escalated in recent weeks as Russian-backed Syrian forces have fought for control of the eastern part of the city of Aleppo, triggering a stream of refugees.
It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack. ISIS militants have been active in Turkey and carried out several bomb attacks on Turkish targets.
A photograph posted on Twitter showed a man in a black suit holding a pistol, standing close to a podium in the gallery, its walls hung with pictures. Four people, including who appeared to be the ambassador, lay on the floor.
(With inputs from Reuters)
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