Andrei Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, was shot dead in Ankara, the capital city. It is believed to be a terrorist attack in which the attackers shot him in the back. They killed him while he was delivering a speech at an art gallery on Monday. According to Turkish security sources, the gunman was an off-duty police officer who shouted: “Don’t forget Aleppo.”
The death of envoy Andrei Karlov marks as one of the most severe spillovers of the Syria conflict. The Russian foreign ministry confirmed that Karlov died in that attack. Turkey is facing a string of attacks from the Islamic and Kurdish militants. But, the killing of an Ambassador would create resonance in the region.
Russian Ambassador to Turkey Shot Dead in Ankara
Russia is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and its air strikes were instrumental in helping Syrian forces end rebel resistance last week in the northern city of Aleppo. President Tayyip Erdogan, however, has been a vociferous opponent of Assad.
“We regard this as a terrorist act,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “Terrorism will not win, and we will fight against it decisively.”
The attacker was smartly dressed in black suit and tie, and standing behind the ambassador as he made his speech at an exhibition, a person at the scene told Reuters.
“He took out his gun and shot the ambassador from behind. We saw him lying on the floor and then we ran out,” said the witness, who asked not to be identified.
Two security sources identified the gunman as an off-duty police officer who worked in the Turkish capital.
A Reuters cameraman at the scene said gunfire rang out for some time after the attack. The Anadolu news agency said the gunman had been “neutralized,” apparently killed.
A video showed the attacker shouting: “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” As screams rang out, he could be seen pacing about and shouting as he held the gun in one hand and waved the other in the air.
Another photograph showed four people including what appeared to be the ambassador lying on the floor.
Russia and Turkey have both been involved in the conflict in Syria, which borders Turkey. Turkey has been a staunch opponent of Assad, while Russia has deployed troops and its air force in support of the Syrian leader.
The U.S. State Department, involved in diplomatic contacts with Russia in an attempt to resolve a refugee crisis unfolding around the city of Aleppo, condemned the attack.
Tensions have escalated in recent weeks as Russian-backed Syrian forces have fought for control of the eastern part of Aleppo, triggering a stream of refugees.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. Islamic State militants are active in Turkey since a long time. They carried out several bomb attacks on Turkish targets over the last year.Russian Ambassador to Turkey Shot Dead in Ankara