Russia calls ambassador assassination 'a terrorist act'

Andrey Karlov was shot in the back as he made a speech

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The Independent Online

Russia has said it regards the killing of its ambassador to Ankara "as a terrorist attack".

Andrey Karlov was shot in the back as he made a speech at a photo exhibit in the Turkish capital.

Mr Karlov was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored exhibition when a man wearing a suit and tie shouted "Allahu akbar" and fired at least eight shots, according to an AP photographer in the audience. 

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Man shouts 'We die in Aleppo, you die here' after shooting dead Russian ambassador to Turkey

The gunman also reportedly shouted: "Don't forget Aleppo. Don't forget Syria... Anyone who has a role in this oppression will die one by one.”

"Today in Ankara as a result of an attack, the ambassador of the Russian Federation to Turkey, Andrey Gennadyevich Karlov, received a wound from which he died," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

"We regard this as a terrorist act.

“Terrorism will not win and we will fight against it decisively,” Ms Zakharova said

Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek told reporters outside the exhibition centre the "heinous" attack was aimed to disrupt newly-re-established relations between Turkey and Russia.

Mr Karlov was 62 and joined the diplomatic service in 1976. He served as Russia's ambassador to Pyongyang in 2001-2006, and later worked as the chief of the Foreign Ministry's consular department.

He had served as the ambassador to Turkey since 2013.

The attacker was dressed in black suit and tie, and standing behind the ambassador as he made his speech at an exhibition, a person at the scene told Reuters.

“He took out his gun and shot the ambassador from behind. We saw him lying on the floor and then we ran out,” said the witness, who asked not to be identified.

Two security sources identified the gunman as a police officer who worked in the Turkish capital.

A Reuters cameraman at the scene said gunfire rang out for some time after the attack. The Anadolu news agency said the gunman had been “neutralised”, apparently killed.

Another photograph showed four people including what appeared to be the ambassador lying on the floor.

Russia and Turkey have both been involved in the conflict in Syria, which borders Turkey. Turkey has been a staunch opponent of Assad, while Russia has deployed troops and its air force in support of the Syrian leader.

The U.S. State Department, involved in diplomatic contacts with Russia in an attempt to resolve a refugee crisis unfolding around the city of Aleppo, condemned the attack.

Gunfire heard outside art exhibit where Russian ambassador to Turkey is shot dead

Tensions have escalated in recent weeks as Russian-backed Syrian forces have fought for control of the eastern part of Aleppo, triggering a stream of refugees.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

Agencies contributed to this report