Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey Assassinated in Ankara

Russia’s ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov

Mevlut Mert Aydintas, a 22 year old Turkish riot police member has shot dead the Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, in Ankara.

The ambassador was attending a photo exhibition called “Russia as seen by Turks”.

Video of the event show Karlov making a speech when gunshots ring out. Eight bullets are said to have been fired.

The camera pulls back to show a smartly dressed gunman, wearing a suit and tie, waving a pistol and shouting in Arabic and Turkish.

He can be heard yelling “don’t forget about Aleppo, don’t forget about Syria” and uses the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar” (God is great).

Karlov was rushed to hospital but his death was later confirmed by the Russian foreign ministry.

The shooting comes at a moment of high stakes negotiations between Turkey and Russia, with implications for the future of the Syrian conflict that has left as many as half a million people dead. Russia condemned the killing as an act of terrorism.

Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot at an art gallery in the Turkish capital on Monday. In video footage, the ambassador stands at a podium as gunfire rings out. He flinches and then drops to the floor. Standing behind him, a man holding a gun and wearing a dark suit and tie raises one finger skyward and shouts, “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”

Mevlut Mert Aydintas Assassinates Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey

The gunman continues in Turkish, “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria! Step back! Step back! Only death can take me from here.” He adds: “As long as our cities are unsafe, you will not be safe,” and: “Everyone who has a role in this cruelty will pay for it!”

During the attack, the assailant also recited a slogan in Arabic: “We are those who pledged jihad to Mohamed.”

Russian and Turkish leaders stressed that the assassination would not result in renewed hostility between the two countries. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the killing “an unquestionable provocation to damage Turkish-Russian bilateral relations.” He said that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin “on the same page on this issue. There is no controversy.”

In televised remarks, Mr Putin said the act was “undoubtedly a provocation aimed at disrupting the normalisation” of bilateral ties and the “peace process in Syria”.

The assassination of the Russian ambassador in fact took place on the eve of a diplomatic summit in Moscow including the Foreign Ministers of Russia and Iran, a meeting of key regional powers that back opposing sides in the Syrian war. Russian and Turkish officials confirmed that the meeting would proceed as planned.

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

Condemning the attack as an act of “terrorism”, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Turkey had given assurances that there would be a comprehensive investigation, and those responsible would be punished.

“The memory of this outstanding Russian diplomat, a man who did so much to counter terrorism… will remain in our hearts forever,” Ms Zakharova said.

© TIME/BBC

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