Russian envoy to Turkey Andrei Karlov shot dead

20 December 2016

Andrei KarlovA Turkish policeman fatally shot Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at a photo exhibition centre in capital Ankara, on Monday, in front of a shocked gathering, in what appeared to be an act against Russia's role in the Syrian conflict.

The shooter, an anti-riot policeman, shouted slogans like ''Don't forget Aleppo! Don't forget Syria!'' after he shot down Andrei Karlov to vent his ire over Russia's military role in Syria.

Reports said the gunman, identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old member of Ankara's riot police squad, shot at least eight times  at the Russian envoy before he was shot dead by the police.

Three other people were wounded in the attack, authorities said.

Karlov was speaking at the embassy-sponsored exhibition in Ankara when he was gunned down.

The attacker, also fired shots in the air sending the audience running for cover, and smashed several of the framed photos at the exhibition.

The gunman also got into a shootout with the police before he was killed, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported

The attack appears have been carried out by forces inimical to Syrian President Bashar al Assad, and leaders of Turkey and Russia said the attack was an attempt to disrupt efforts to repair ties between Russia and Turkey, which was on the other side of the Syrian civil war before its patch up with Moscow.

The assassination comes days after protests by Turks angry over Russia's support for President Assad in the Syrian conflict and Russia's role in the bombardment and destruction of Aleppo, Syria's largest city.

The gunman shouted about Aleppo in Turkish, and also yelled ''Allahu akbar,'' the Arabic for ''God is great,'' adding, in Arabic: ''We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Mohammad, for jihad.''

The attack, condemned by the White House, was another sign of how Turkey, a Nato member and a partner in the US-led campaign against the Islamic State group, highlights the sense of unease over the region's conflict and the complex web of alliances and relationships.

Turkey is struggling to contain multiple security threats brought about by years of civil war in Syria, which sent several million refugees into Turkey and, more recently, pushed Turkey into the conflict.

The shooting comes a day before a key meeting of ministers of Turkey, Iran and Russia in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the killing of Karlov as an attempt to damage Russia-Turkey ties ''and to thwart a peace process in Syria which Russia, Turkey and Iran have been actively trying to promote''.

Putin said he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a phone call that Russian investigators would fly to Ankara to conduct a joint probe with their Turkish counterparts.

''We must know who was directing the killer,'' Putin said in televised remarks. He ordered top officials to strengthen protection of the Turkish embassy in Moscow and asked Turkey to increase security at the Russian mission in Ankara.

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