Russian ambassador to Turkey was on Monday assassinated at an Ankara art exhibition 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, described by Ankara’s mayor as a policeman, also wounded at least three others in the assault on the envoy, Andrey G. Karlov, was captured on Turkish video. Turkish officials said the assailant was killed by other officers in a shootout.
The assassination, an embarrassing security failure in the Turkish capital, instantly vaulted relations between Turkey and Russia to a new level of crisis over the Syrian conflict on Turkey’s southern doorstep, now in its sixth year.
The longer-term implications for the Russia-Turkey relationship, which had been warming recently after plunging a year ago, were not immediately clear. But some analysts played down the notion that the assassination would lead to a new rupture, saying it could conversely bring the countries closer together in a shared fight against terrorism.
The assassination 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 Russian envoy was shot from behind and immediately fell to the floor while speaking at an exhibition of photographs, according to multiple accounts from the scene, the Contemporary Arts Center in the Cankaya area of Ankara.
This seems like it could end up a historic photograph. Russian ambassador in Ankara and his assassin. pic.twitter.com/BOSati5nYm— Historical Pics (@HistoricalPics) December 19, 2016
The gunman, wearing a dark suit and tie, was seen in video footage of the assault waving a pistol and shouting in Arabic: “God is great! Those who pledged allegiance to Muhammad for jihad. God is great!”
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. Turkey’s Interior Ministry said the ambassador had died at Guven Hospital in Ankara.