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UPDATE: Russian ambassador shot dead in Ankara

Russia's ambassador to Ankara Andrey Karlov was shot dead wounded in a gun attack while visiting an art exhibition opening in the Turkish capital. (AP)

The Russian ambassador to Ankara was shot in the back and killed while giving a speech at an art gallery on Monday. Turkish security sources said the gunman, who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo”, was an off-duty police officer.

“When the ambassador was delivering a speech, a tall man wearing a suit fired into the air first and then took aim at the ambassador,” Hasim Kilic, a correspondent for the daily Hurriyet, told AFP.

“He said something about ‘Aleppo’ and ‘revenge’.” The attack came after days of protests in Turkey over Russia’s role in Syria.

Read also: Who is the Russian ambassador who was killed in Turkey?

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.

 

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.

Read also: All you need to know on the gunman who killed the Russian ambassador

Pictures published by the Hurriyet daily showed at least two men in suits lying flat on the ground as another man brandished a gun.

Karlov was taken to hospital, however the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters that the ambassador had died, while several other people were wounded in the attack.

“Today in Ankara as a result of an attack, the ambassador of the Russian Federation to Turkey, Andrey Gennadyevich Karlov, received a wound from which he died,” Zakharova said.

Shortly after the diplomat was taken to hospital, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said the gunman had been “neutralised.”

Image from Turkey's newspaper, Hurriyet, from the moment after shooting of Russia's ambassador to Ankara at an art opening. (Photo courtesy: Hurriyet)

 

Turkish security sources said the shooter was a police officer who worked in Ankara. However, security sources said the gunman was not on duty when he made the attack.

Erdogan confirmed in video message that the attacker was Mevlut Mert Aydintas, who worked for Ankara riot police for over two years.

In a video that was released, the gunman can be heard shouting “Allah akbar.”

The foreign ministry in Moscow said Monday, describing the incident as a “terrorist act”.

CNN Turk reported that the mother and sister of the shooter have been taken into custody.

 

 

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack and said he had spoken to Russian president Vladimir Putin, stating that this was a provocation aimed at damaging normalization of ties with Russia.

The attack came after days of protests in Turkey over Russia’s role in Syria, although Moscow and Ankara are now working closely together to evacuate citizens from Aleppo.

Putin also stated that the killing was designed to spoil Russo-Turkish ties and to derail Syria’s peace process.
The Turkish president stressed solidarity with Russia, stating that the evacuations of Aleppo is proof of their unity.

Erdogan added that this was an attack “on Turkish people and the Turkish state.”

Read also: Russian envoy killing widely condemned

The attack happened at the Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi, a major art exhibition hall in the Cankaya district of Ankara where most foreign embassies are located including Russia’s mission.

The attack comes just days after protesters in Turkey held Moscow responsible for human rights violations in Aleppo.

However, Reuters news agency reported that a Turkey senior security official said that there are ‘very strong signs’ that the gunman belonged to network of US-based cleric Gulen. The security official added that they are current investigation is focused on gunman’s links to Gulen’s network.

This picture taken on December 19, 2016 shows Andrey Karlov (bottom), the Russian ambassador to Ankara, lying on the floor after being shot by a gunman (R) during an attack during a public event in Ankara. (AFP)

This picture taken on December 19, 2016 shows Andrey Karlov (2ndR), the Russian ambassador to Ankara, lying on the floor after being shot by a gunman (R) during an attack during a public event in Ankara. (AFP)

Turkish police secure the area near an art gallery where the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016. (Reuters)

An ambulance leaves the area near an art gallery where the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016. (Reuters)

 

(With Agencies)

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Last Update: Tuesday, 20 December 2016 KSA 00:43 - GMT 21:43
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UPDATE: Russian ambassador shot dead in Ankara
Russia's ambassador to Ankara Andrey Karlov was shot dead in a gun attack while visiting an art exhibition opening
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