Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated at an Ankara art exhibit on Monday evening by a lone Turkish gunman shouting “God is great!” and “don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” in what Russia called a terrorist attack.
The gunman, described by Ankara’s mayor as a policeman, also wounded at least three others in the assault on the envoy, Andrey G. Karlov, which was captured on Turkish video. Turkish officials said the assailant was killed by other officers in a shootout.
The assassination, an embarrassing security failure in the Turkish capital, instantly vaulted relations between Turkey and Russia to a new level of crisis over the Syrian conflict on Turkey’s southern doorstep, now in its sixth year.
The longer-term implications for the Russia-Turkey relationship, which had been warming recently after plunging a year ago, were not immediately clear. But some analysts played down the notion that the assassination would lead to a new rupture, saying it could conversely bring the countries closer together in a shared fight against terrorism.
The assassination came after days of protests by Turks angry over Russia’s support for Syria’s government in the conflict and the Russian role in the killings and destruction in Aleppo, the northern Syrian city.
The Russian envoy was shot from behind and immediately fell to the floor while speaking at an exhibition of photographs, according to multiple accounts from the scene, the Contemporary Arts Center in the Cankaya area of Ankara.
The gunman, wearing a dark suit and tie, was seen in video footage of the assault waving a pistol and shouting in Arabic: “God is great! Those who pledged allegiance to Muhammad for jihad. God is great!”
Then he switched to Turkish and shouted: “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria! Step back! Step back! Only death can take me from here.”
Turkish officials said the gunman was killed after a shootout with Turkish Special Forces. His identity was not immediately known.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told the Rossiya 24 news channel that Mr. Karlov had died of his wounds in what she described as a terrorist attack. Turkey’s Interior Ministry said the ambassador had died at Guven Hospital in Ankara.
Russian news agencies said the ambassador’s wife fainted and was hospitalized after learning of her husband’s death. They also said Russian tourists in Turkey had been advised against leaving their hotel rooms or visiting public places as a precaution.
Mr. Karlov, who started his career as a diplomat in 1976, worked extensively in North Korea over two decades, before moving to the region in 2007, according to a biography on the Russian Embassy’s website. He became ambassador in July 2013. –the new york times