Russian ambassador shot dead at event in Turkey

A man gestures after shooting Andrei Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, on the floor, at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. The ambassador's condition wasn't immediately known. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

ANKARA – Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot and killed by an attacker in the capital of Ankara on Monday, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The official portrait of Andrey Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey (THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RUSSIA FEDERATION)
The official portrait of Andrey Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey (THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RUSSIA FEDERATION)

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed Andrei Karlov’s passing, saying he died as the result of a “terrorist act.”

Private NTV news channel reports Turkish police fatally shot the gunman.

It is not clear if anyone else was wounded in the attack, nor the extent of any other injuries.

The attacker has not been identified.

The ambassador was several minutes into a speech at an embassy-sponsored photo exhibition in the capital, Ankara, when a man wearing a suit and tie shouted “Allahu Akbar” and fired at least eight shots, according to an AP photographer in the audience. The attacker also said some words in Russian and smashed several of the photos hung for the exhibition.

U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby said they were aware of reports about the shooting but declined to provide details.

Hurriyet newspaper reporter Hasim Kilic, who was at the exhibit, and other local media report the gunman mentioned “Aleppo” when he launched his assault.

Officials have not provided details of the attack yet.

Russia and Turkey recently negotiated a cease-fire in the Syrian civil war between rebels and the Assad regime fighting over the city of Aleppo. The cease-fire has led to the negotiated surrender of rebels that had held the city since nearly the beginning of the five-year-old conflict.

If the evacuation from Aleppo is completed later on Monday, it will close an important chapter in Syria’s civil war, which Russia involved in largely due to its long-standing alliance with the ruling Assad clan, and Turkey is involved largely due to its long border with the country.

Earlier this year, there was a diplomatic crisis between the two nations after Turkey shot down a Russian jet Ankara said had violated their airspace during maneuvers over Syria.

Turkey has also struggled with a series of deadly terrorist attacks recently, from both Kurdish rebels and groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS.)

According to the Ministry of Foriegn Affairs, Karlov began his diplomatic career in 1976, and has previously served in South Korea. He became Russian Ambassador to Turkey in July of 2013.

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