Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, has been shot dead in what appears to be a terrorist attack on Dec. 19. Karlov was delivering a speech at the opening of a photography exhibit at an art gallery in the Turkish capital of Ankara when a man emerged from the crowd and shot him at least three times.
"Today in Ankara as a result of an attack, the ambassador of the Russian Federation to Turkey, Andrey Gennadyevich Karlov, received a wound from which he died," said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, notes Reuters. "We regard this as a terrorist act."
It is believed the lone gunman was on off-duty police officer in Ankara. The man was “neutralized” after the attack, according to Turkish state media, adds Reuters.
“Don’t forget Aleppo. Don’t forget Syria,” the gunman shouted after firing at Karlov, reports The Guardian. “Unless our towns are secure, you won’t enjoy security. Only death can take me from here. Everyone who is involved in this suffering will pay a price.”
“We are the one who pledged allegiance to Muhammad, to wage jihad,” the man also shouted, reportedly in Arabic.
Karlov has been part of ongoing negotiations between Turkey and Russia about civilian evacuations in east Aleppo after the city fell in mid-December.
In November 2015, Turkey downed a Russian jet, which led to a freezing of already-strained relations between the two countries, notes Foreign Affairs. In June, a rapprochement began between Russia and Turkey with Karlov acting as a central figure.
Fatih Oke, the former press attache at the Turkish embassy in the United States, tweeted Dec. 19 that the bullet was not only aimed at Karlov, but also at Turkish-Russian relations.