A 22-year-old Islamic fanatic Turkish police officer has shot and killed the Russian ambassador to Turkey at an Ankara art gallery.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that Andrey Karlov died during an armed terrorist assault while attending a photo exhibition in Ankara on Monday.
“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,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Monday evening.
The assault on the Russian ambassador is an “act of terrorism,” she added.
“We are in touch with Turkish officials, who assured us that there will be a thorough and comprehensive investigation [into the case],” Zakharova said.
The ambassador, Andrey Karlov, was shot as he was delivering a speech on the opening of the exhibition “Russia in the eyes of Turks.”
— BirGün Gazetesi (@BirGun_Gazetesi) 19 December 2016
The perpetrator, who was wearing a suit and a tie, shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is great’ in Arabic) during the attack.
Following the shooting of Karlov, the assailant shouted: “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!”
“Only death can take me away from here. Whoever has a role in this cruelty, they will pay for it one by one. They will,” the man went on to say. Since last year, Russia has been providing Syrian government forces with air support in their fight against terror groups and rebels.
Turkish NTV broadcaster says that three other people were also injured in the attack on the ambassador.
The attacker himself has been killed by Turkish Special Forces in a shoot out that followed.
Pictures of the ambassador right before he was shot. pic.twitter.com/B5k8foVCjp
— Gilgo (@agirecudi) 19 December 2016
The gunman was a police officer, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu confirmed.
Previously Interfax, citing a source in the Turkish military, reported that the perpetrator had presented a police ID as he entered the exhibition.
Meanwhile, a picture allegedly showing the perpetrator’s personal file, apparently proving he was indeed a police officer, was posted on social media.
Rus Büyükelçisi Karlov’u öldüren suikastçi aktif görevde olan çevik kuvvet polisi Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş. pic.twitter.com/uyf5ovIjUH
— ahmet şık (@sahmetsahmet) 19 December 2016
Reacting to the assault on the Russian ambassador, the US State Department expressed its condemnation.
“We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” State Department spokesperson John Kirby, wrote on his official Twitter account.
We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. (2 of 2)
— John Kirby (@statedeptspox) 19 December 2016
The attack on the ambassador might be an attempt to jeopardize relations between Moscow and Ankara, Russian MP and member of the International Relations Committee, Elena Panina said.
“I believe that this is a provocation to disrupt improved dialogue between Russia and Turkey. Moreover, we know that [Turkish President] Erdogan is due to visit the Russian Federation. Therefore, it is a pure provocation,” Panina told RIA Novosti news agency.
— РИА Новости (@rianru) 19 December 2016
Speaking to RT, Russian Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov said that the death of Karlov was a huge loss.
“He [Karlov] was a very talented diplomat, very experienced diplomat. It’s a very big loss for all of us.”
“All those, who planned this attack, those who participated in perpetrating this terrorist act, in carrying it out, will be brought to justice, there is no doubt about that,” Dolgov emphasized. The diplomat also noted that “there is no justification whatsoever for such a terrorist act and there is no justification for terrorism as a whole.”
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