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Russian Ambassador to Turkey assassinated

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Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov assassinated in Ankara

Ankara on Dec. 19, Russia and Turkey have confirmed.

Karlov was shot by a gun while making a speech at a photography exhibition in the Turkish capital, the Russian Embassy said, adding that it believed that it was a radical Islamist attack.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova later announced that Karlov succumbed to his wounds.

Turkish Foreign Ministry has also confirmed Karlov’s death, in a written statement, adding that the perpetrators will face justice for their action.

The ministry designated the attack on Karlov as a "terror organization."


Attacker identified


Accompanied by Health Minister Recep Akdağ and Defense Minister Fikri Işık, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu later announced that the attacker was a 22-year-old police officer identified as Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş.

Soylu said Altıntaş was born on June 24, 1994, in the Söke district of the western province of Aydın.

The minister also added that Altıntaş had been on duty for two-and-a half years at the riot police unit in Ankara and was a graduate of a police vocational school in İzmir.

Soylu said three more people were wounded in the attack, which he described as "provocation," adding that while one of them was discharged from hospital, the other two injured were being treated in the hospital.



Soylu stated that Altıntaş was 'neutralized' in a special operations police operation at the scene.

He said the attack occurred at around 7:05 p.m. (4:05 p.m. GMT) in Ankara at a photograph exhibition in an art gallery in Ankara’s central Çankaya district.

He added that Karlov did not respond to efforts to bring him back to life at the Güven Hospital at 7:53 p.m. (4:53 p.m. GMT).

“Our dear friend lost his life,” Soylu said.

Meanwhile, Altıntaş’s mother and sister were detained in operation at their residence in Söke during an operation, CNN Türk reported.

In addition, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he “vehemently condemns the dastardly and bloodthirstily slaughter” of Karlov.

The president said the assassination was an “open provocation” made against the Turkey-Russia relations, adding that he and Putin had agreed that this was an act provocation.

“As we have agreed with Putin, we will launch a joint investigation commission,” said Erdoğan.

Erdoğan added that Turkey would increase security measures around Russian diplomatic buildings and people.

Hürriyet Ankara representative Deniz Zeyrek said the attacker first shot into the air and later shot the envoy in the back.

He shot the envoy for the second time after the scene was evacuated. It has also been reported that the attacker entered the scene by showing a police identity and wearing a suit.


'Don't forget Aleppo,' shouts assailant


The attacker reportedly shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria! As long as our brothers are not safe, you will not enjoy safety” according to a footage released on Dutch website nos.nl.

“Whoever has a share in this oppression will pay for it one-by-one,” he added.

“Only death will take me away from here.” He also recited "God is great" before talking in Turkish.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu later arrived at the scene.

Meanwhile, Kremlin said that President Vladimir Putin was studying a report on the attack.

Russian Foreign Ministry also said the Russian side was in contact with Turkish authorities about the attack.

The exhibition was held by the embassy at a cultural center in central Ankara and was announced one week earlier.

A private guard does not accompany Karlov in such public occasions.


Turkish FM on plane en route to Moscow


The attack comes one day before Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu heads to Moscow for talks on Syria with his Russian and Iranian counterparts, Sergei Lavrov and Javad Zarif, respectively.

Çavuşoğlu was on the plane to Moscow during the time of the attack.


Mr. Karlov, who started his career as a diplomat in 1976, worked extensively in North Korea over three decades, before moving to Ankara in 2007, according to a biography on the Russian Embassy’s website. He became ambassador in July 2013.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Russian President Vladimir Putin and informed him over the attack, CNN Türk reported.

"There will be no fresh cooling in relations between Moscow and Ankara, no matter how strongly our strategic opponents in Ankara and the West want this," said Leonid Slutsky, who heads the international affairs committee of the Russian Duma, according to the BBC.

"This is not going to happen. There are differences between us. It's a horrendous tragedy, but relations between our states will not suffer,” Slutsky said.


US, UK, NATO condemn attack


Meanwhile, the attack drew condemnations from world leaders and international organizations.

"I condemn in the strongest terms the heinous attack on Ambassador Karlov tonight," the U.S. Embassy tweeted quoting Ambassador John Bass after the attack.

The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also issued a statement, condemning the gun attack.

"The United States condemns the assassination today in Ankara of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones, the Russian people, and with the other victims who were injured in this shooting. We stand ready to offer assistance to Russia and Turkey as they investigate this despicable attack, which was also an assault on the right of all diplomats to safely and securely advance and represent their nations around the world," the statement read.


The U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby condemned the attack.

"We have seen reports that the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov and others have been attacked by a gunman in #Ankara. We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," Kirby tweeted.

"Shocked to hear of despicable murder of #Russia's Ambassador to #Turkey. My thoughts are with his family. I condemn this cowardly attack," British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also condemned the gun attack.

"I condemn the killing of Russia’s amb to Turkey. My condolences to his family & Russian people. No justification for such a heinous act," Stoltenberg tweeted.

Relations between Turkey and Russia came to a halt after the former downed the latter’s fighter jet along its border with Syria on grounds of air space violation on Nov. 24, 2015. Russia denied any breach of Turkish air space.

It was not until late June when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan penned a letter to his Russian counterpart Putin that a rapprochement started.

Since then strained ties have started to be restored, with the two leaders meeting three times in person and a ban on Russians to travel to Turkey lifted.

The two countries has recently cooperated and reached a deal over a cease-fire on Syria’s besieged part of eastern Aleppo and an evacuation of rebels and civilians from the city.

The evacuation started on Dec. 15, and was ongoing on Dec. 19.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ru...kara.aspx?pageID=238&nID=107512&NewsCatID=341
 
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