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Rediff.com  » News » Russian ambassador to Turkey shot dead, gunman shouted 'Don't forget Aleppo'

Russian ambassador to Turkey shot dead, gunman shouted 'Don't forget Aleppo'

Last updated on: December 20, 2016 13:18 IST

Russia has described the killing of Andrey Karlov at an art exhibition in Ankara as a terror attack.

IMAGE: Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov's body lies on the ground after he was shot dead by a gunman at an art gallery in Ankara. Photograph: Hasim Kilic/Hurriyet via Reuters

A gunman assassinated Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on Monday, shouting ‘Don’t forget Aleppo’ as he opened fire on Andrey Karlov at an art exhibition in Ankara.

Russia’s foreign ministry described the shooting, which was captured on video, as a “terror attack.”

“We are currently in contact with Turkish authorities, who are assuring us that a thorough, comprehensive investigation will be conducted,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in remarks broadcast on Russian television.

“Murderers will be punished. Terrorism won’t sustain. We’ll fight it.”

IMAGE: Turkish police secure the area near an art gallery where the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot in Ankara, Turkey. Photograph: Umit Bektas/Reuters

Drama unfolded when Ambassador Andrey Karlov, 62, was giving a speech at the opening ceremony of a photo exhibit.

The shooter, now identified as on social media as Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, 22, an off-duty police officer from the Ankara special forces department, repeatedly shot Karlov in the back at close range, shouting: “We die in Aleppo, you die here!”

Altintas was later shot dead by police, according to local media. 

IMAGE: Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, 22, an off-duty police officer from the Ankara special forces department, was later shot dead by police, according to local media. Photograph: Umit Bektas/Reuters

The horrific scene was caught on camera by journalists at the gallery to cover the event.   

Footage shows the gunman, dressed in a suit and tie, pacing the gallery while brandishing a gun in one hand and waving the other in the air.

It is believed he used his police ID to bypass security staff at the exhibition. 

One pro-Kremlin news website reported that Karlov was shot 11 times.    

The fatal attack follows days of protests in Turkey over Russia’s role in Syria. 

IMAGE: Karlov, 62, was a veteran diplomat who had served as Soviet ambassador to North Korea for much of the 1980s. He took up the Ankara posting in July 2013. Photograph: Osman Orsal/File Photo/Reuters

Karlov, 62, was a veteran diplomat who had served as Soviet ambassador to North Korea for much of the 1980s.

After the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991, he had a posting as Russian ambassador to South Korea before returning to the North for five years in 2001.

Taking up the Ankara posting in July 2013, he had to grapple with a major diplomatic crisis last year when a Turkish plane shot down a Russian jet close to the Syrian border.

The shooting of the ambassador is the latest in a long string of attacks in Turkey this year, although it’s the first in recent memory to be directed at a foreign dignitary.

The United States condemns the gun attack on the Russian ambassador to Turkey earlier on Monday, the US State Department said. 

“We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source,” said US State Department spokesman John Kirby in a statement, “Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

India on Tuesday condemned the assassination of Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, saying it was shocked by the dastardly act and that there can never be any justification for terrorism.

"India strongly condemns the tragic assassination of the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Turkey. We are deeply saddened and shocked by this dastardly act," the External Affairs Ministry said.

"We offer our condolences to the family of Ambassador Andrey Karlov and share their pain and grief. There can never be any justification for violence and terrorism," the MEA said in a statement.

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