A gunman in a suit and tie shouted slogans about Syria’s civil war after he killed Russia’s ambassador to Turkey in front of stunned onlookers at a photo exhibition in the Turkish capital on Monday, according to an Associated Press photographer who witnessed the shooting. Police later killed the assailant, Turkish station NTV reported.
Ambassador Andrei Karlov, 62, was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored exhibition in Ankara when a man fired at least eight shots. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin to share information about the shooting.
Here’s what the stakeholders in the Syria war said:
“Today in Ankara as a result of an attack, the ambassador of the Russian Federation to Turkey, Andrei Gennadyevich Karlov, received a wound from which he died,” Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters.
“We regard this as a terrorist act.
“Terrorism will not win and we will fight against it decisively,” said Zakharova, adding the Russian foreign ministry would be issuing a further statement later in the day.
“The memory of an outstanding Russian diplomat, Andrei Gennadyevich Karlov, a person who did a great deal to fight terrorism in his diplomatic post, will always be in our hearts.”
Turkey will not allow Monday’s shooting to “cast a shadow” over Turkish-Russian friendship, the Turkey’s foreign ministry said, expressing deep sadness and condemning the “lowly terrorist attack”.
The statement, paying tribute to the ambassador as being a well respected diplomat, said the attacker had been “neutralised” and that those responsible for the attack would be brought to justice.
The United States moved quickly to condemn the gun attack in Ankara. “We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” state department spokesperson John Kirby said.
The US official did not suggest who might have been behind the attack, which witnesses said was carried out by a gunman demanding “revenge” for Aleppo.
Russia is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its air strikes were instrumental in helping Syrian forces end rebel resistance last week in the northern city of Aleppo. President Tayyip Erdogan, however, has been a vociferous opponent of Assad.
Syria condemned the murder in neighbouring Turkey of the ambassador of its key ally Russia as a “despicable crime”, state news agency SANA said, quoting the foreign ministry.
“The Syrian republic condemns in the strongest terms the cowardly terrorist attack that led to the death of the Russian ambassador in Turkey, Andrei Karlov,” a ministry statement said.
“This despicable crime confirms once again the urgent need to expand all efforts and means to fight and eliminate terrorism,” it added.
Russia is Syria’s main ally in the nearly six-year war, and has helped President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to retake the battleground northern city of Aleppo from rebels. On September 30, 2015, Russia began a campaign of air strikes in Syria to help government forces.
The United Nations too condemned the attack. “There can be no justification for an attack on a diplomat or an ambassador,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said. “We hope that the perpetrator will be brought to justice.”