Gunman kills Russian ambassador to Turkey
ANKARA, Turkey — A gunman wearing a suit and tie and shouting “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!” on Monday shot and killed Russia’s ambassador to Turkey as he gave a speech at a photo exhibition.
Turkish police fatally shot the gunman, Turkish station NTV reported.
The ambassador, Andrei Karlov, was several minutes into his speech at the embassy-sponsored exhibition in the capital, Ankara, when the gunman fired at least eight shots, according to an AP photographer in the audience. The attacker also smashed several of the photos hung for the exhibition.
There was panic as people ran for cover. NTV said three other people were wounded in the attack.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Karlov was shot “when an unidentified assailant opened chaotic gunfire during a public event in Ankara.” She later confirmed he had died. She said Russia was in contact with Turkish officials about the incident.
Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek told reporters outside the exhibition center that the “heinous” attack aimed to disrupt newly re-established relations between Turkey and Russia.
After shouting about Syria in Turkis, the gunman yelled: “Stand back! Stand back! Only death will take me out of here. Anyone who has a role in this oppression will die one by one.”
The gunman also shouted “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.”
Turkey, a NATO member and U.S. ally, is a largely Muslim nation.
The attack came a day before a meeting of Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign and defense ministers in Moscow to discuss Syria.
Russia and Iran have backed Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey has supported Assad’s foes.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said U.S. officials were aware of reports about the shooting.
“We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source,” Kirby said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”