The Russian ambassador to Turkey has died after being shot by a gunman in Ankara, where he was attending a photo exhibition, the Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed.
“This is a tragic day in the history of Russian diplomacy. Today, Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov died after being shot at during a public event in Ankara,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Monday evening.
The assault on the Russian ambassador is an “act of terrorism,” she added.
The ambassador, Andrey Karlov, was shot after he was about to deliver a speech on the opening of the exhibition “Russia in the eyes of Turks.”
Photos purportedly showing the perpetrator bearing a firearm are now increasingly circulating on social media. Users are also posting pictures which they say show the Russian ambassador lying on the ground after having been shot.
— BirGün Gazetesi (@BirGun_Gazetesi) December 19, 2016
The perpetrator, who was wearing a suit and a tie, shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is great’ in Arabic) during the attack, AP reports, citing their own photographer.
The attacker also said several words in Russian, according to the news agency, and damaged several of the photos at the expo.
Turkish NTV broadcaster says that three other people were also injured in the attack on the ambassador.
The attacker has been killed by Turkish Special Forces, Turkish Anadolu news agency reports. Russian Interfax, citing a source in the Turkish military, also confirms that the gunman was neutralized.
Hurriyet newspaper, citing their own reporter, says that the perpetrator also fired warning shots in the air before targeting Karlov.
Pictures of the ambassador right before he was shot. pic.twitter.com/B5k8foVCjp
— Gilgo (@agirecudi) December 19, 2016
The attacker reportedly identified himself as a police officer as he entered the exhibition, a Turkish military source told Interfax.
“We have information, from one of the witnesses, that the attacker presented himself as a police officer, showing the relevant ID at the entrance. This information is being checked right now,” the source is quoted as saying.
Reacting to the assault on the Russian ambassador, the US State Department expressed its condemnation.
“We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” State Department spokesperson John Kirby, wrote on his official Twitter account.
We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. (2 of 2)
— John Kirby (@statedeptspox) December 19, 2016