Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot dead in front of a crowd at a posh art gallery in the capital Ankara as the angry gunmen screamed “don’t forget Aleppo”.
Police later killed the assailant on Monday night, Turkish station NTV reported.
Andrey Karlov, 62, was several minutes into a speech at an embassy-sponsored photo exhibition when a man who stood directly behind him in a dark suit shot the diplomat in the back from close range multiple times.
Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova made the announcement of Karlov’s death in a live televised statement.
The assailant was a 22-year-old off-duty police officer who worked in Turkey’s capital, said Ankara’s Mayor Melih Gokcek.
Turkish police detained six people over the killing, state media said on Tuesday. The state-run Anadolu agency said the attacker’s mother, father, sister and two other relatives were held in the western province of Aydin, while his flat-mate in Ankara was also detained.
After the initial shot, the attacker approached Karlov as he lay on the ground and shot him at least one more time at close range, according to an AP photographer at the scene.
He paced angrily around the body while shouting and also smashed several of the framed photos on exhibition, but later let the stunned guests out of the venue.
The spectacle of Karlov’s assassination by a member of the Turkish security forces at a photography exhibit meant to highlight Russian culture reinforced the sense of unease over the region’s conflict and complex web of alliances and relationships.
The assailant referenced the situation in Aleppo after he shot the ambassador in the back.
“Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria,” the attacker said in Turkish after gunning down the ambassador, as seen on a video shared by Turkish media from the scene.
“Whoever took part in this cruelty will pay the price, one by one… Only death will take me from here,” the man said while holding a pistol.
He then continued in Arabic, saying: “We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad, for jihad.”
The attack came a day before a meeting of Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign and defence ministers in Moscow to discuss Syria.
Video credit: Aljazeera