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Russian Ambassador to Turkey Killed in Shooting


A man gestures near to the body of a man at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016.

The Russian ambassador to Turkey was shot and killed in the Turkish capital Ankara Monday.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed Andrei Karlov had died after he was shot during an event at the Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi, an exhibition hall in a section of Ankara that's home to most foreign embassies.

"Today in Ankara as a result of an attack the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov received wounds that he died from," Zakharova said . "We qualify what happened as a terrorist act.

A map showing the location of the exhibit hall in Ankara where Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was shot and killed Dec. 19, 2016.
A map showing the location of the exhibit hall in Ankara where Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was shot and killed Dec. 19, 2016.

Karlov was speaking at a Russian embassy-sponsored photo exhibition titled "Russia as Seen by Turks" when he was shot.

The AP said one of its photographers was at the scene and reported a man wearing a suit and tie shouted "Allahu Akbar'' and fired at least eight shots.

"Don't forget Aleppo! Don't forget Syria!" he then shouted in Turkish. "You will not taste safety unless our towns are safe. Only death can get me out of here! Whoever has a share in this tyranny [in Syria] will pay for it one by one.''

A witness told VOA that attendees passed through a metal detector to get into the exhibit, but it didn't appear there was additional security due to the Russian ambassador's presence.

"[We] threw ourselves to the ground with the gunshot sounds," Bahar Bakir, a diplomacy reporter to Haberturk TV, told VOA's Turkish service. "I saw that the gun was aimed at the ceiling and I saw the ambassador on the ground unfortunately."

Bakir said she heard 20-30 shots as she and others ran from the scene of the shooting.

Police create a barrier in Ankara after a gunman shot Russia's ambassador to Turkey at an art exhibition. (Y.Yazicioglu/VOA)
Police create a barrier in Ankara after a gunman shot Russia's ambassador to Turkey at an art exhibition. (Y.Yazicioglu/VOA)

The Turkish news channel NTV reported that police later shot and killed the gunman.

Authorities in Turkey imposed a temporary blackout on coverage of the shooting.

Killer was policeman

Suleyman Soylu, Turkey's interior minister, said the assassin was a policeman who worked for Ankara's riot police squad the past 2 1/2 years.

He identified the attacker as Mevlut Mert Altintas, born in 1994, and said the killing was "a terror attack" on Russia-Turkey relations.

"We will not allow this attack to cast a shadow on Turkey-Russia relations," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan briefed Russian President Vladimir Putin about the incident by phone, a Turkish official said.

Russia's RIA news agency said security around the Russian embassy in Ankara has been increased following the shooting.

WATCH: Emergency vehicles respond to scene of shooting

Statements of condemnation, solidarity

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said U.S. officials were aware of the shooting.

"We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source,'' Kirby said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.''

In a statement, White House National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price also condemned the assassination and said the U.S., stands "united with Russia and Turkey in our determination to confront terrorism in all of its forms.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. is ready to assist in the investigation of "this despicable act" and called it "an assault on the right of all diplomats to safely and securely advance and represent their nations around the world."

"There can be no justification for an attack on a diplomat or an ambassador." U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere said "irrespective of the differences we have with Turkey on other issues, we are in solidarity with Turkey in the common fight against terrorism."

Career diplomat

Karlov, 62, served as Russia's envoy to Pyongyang in 2001-2006, and later headed the Foreign Ministry's consular department. He became Russia's ambassador to Turkey in 2013.

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