Russian Ambassador to Turkey Is Assassinated in Ankara
ISTANBUL — Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at an Ankara art exhibit 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, who was described by Ankara’s mayor as a policeman, also wounded at least three others in the assault, which was captured on Turkish video, before he was killed by other officers in a shootout.
The assassination instantly vaulted relations between Turkey and Russia to a new level of crisis over the protracted Syria conflict on Turkey’s southern doorstep. It 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 envoy, Andrey G. Karlov, was shot from behind and immediately fell to the floor while delivering opening remarks at an exhibition, called “Russia Through Turks’ Eyes,” 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 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 that the gunman was killed after a shootout with Turkish Special Forces police. The assailant’s identity was not immediately known.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told the Rossiya 24 news channel that Karlov had died of his wounds in what she described as a terrorist attack.
The attack was a rare instance of an assassination of any Russian envoy. Historians said it might have been the first since Pyotr Voykov, a Soviet ambassador to Poland, was shot to death in Warsaw in 1927.