Russian ambassador to Turkey shot dead at Ankara photo exhibit 'by police officer'

'We die in Aleppo, you die here,' gunman reportedly shouts

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The Independent Online

The Russian ambassador to Turkey has been shot dead after being attacked in an art gallery in Ankara.

His assailant - reportedly an off-duty policeman - has also been killed, according to local officials.

Andrey Karlov was several minutes into a speech at a photo exhibit in the capital sponsored by the embassy when he was shot in the back. Three other people were reportedly hurt. 

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Video shows gunman after shooting in Turkey

"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," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

"We regard this as a terrorist act."

Video footage shows the ambassador jolt as numerous shots are heard. The cameras then pan out to show a man holding a pistol and gesticulating. 

The gunman shouted "We die in Aleppo, you die here" and "don't forget Aleppo, Syria," during the attack.

A man gestures near to the body of a man at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey (AP)

Special forces surrounded the building soon after the shooting. Further gunfire followed and there were initial reports that hostages had been taken. 

Some reports said the assailant had entered the gallery with a police ID and had opened fire on the ambassador as he made a speech.

Ankara's mayor said the attack was aimed at ruining Russian-Turkish relations. However, talks between the two countries and Iran, scheduled for Tuesday to discuss Syria, are still expected to go ahead. 

Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was delivering a speech when the gunman opened fire (AP)

President Vladmir Putin is being briefed on the attack, according to Russian news agency Interfax.  

"The President was informed about the attack on the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Turkey's information is verified, the president plans to hear a report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and heads of special services." Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said, according to the agency.

Andrei Karlov was 62 and he 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.

Turkey has seen a wave of terrorist attacks in the last year, the government have mainly blamed Kurdish militants.

However, Isis are also widely suspected of having operated in the country.

Russian and Turkey have had a tense relationship in recent times, and both support rival factions in the Syrian conflict.

However, after relations reached their lowest point after Turkey shot down a Russian jet in 2015, Ankara and Moscow made efforts to improve diplomatic links. 

The US has condemned the attack. State Department spokesman John Kirby said: "we condemn this act of violence, whatever its source. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family." 

Britsh Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was: "Shocked to hear of [the] despicable murder of Russia's Ambassador to Turkey.

"My thoughts are with his family. I condemn this cowardly attack."