Russian ambassador to Turkey killed after gun attack

Mon Dec 19, 2016 4:25PM

The Russian ambassador to Turkey has reportedly died of his injuries sustained in a gun attack in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Andrey Karlov was attacked while visiting an art exhibition opening in the Turkish capital on Monday, television reports said.

RIA Novosti cited sources as saying that he had died of his injuries.

Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov speaks during the opening of an art exhibition in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016. The envoy was gunned down and killed moments later. (Photo by AP)

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, had earlier said that he was hospitalized with a gunshot wound.

Moscow said after the assault in Ankara that it was a “terrorist act.”

The photo shows the shooter of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey standing over him after gunning down the envoy during the opening of an art exhibition in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016. (Photo by AP)

Several other people were also wounded, NTV and CNN-Turk televisions said.

Police fatally shot the assailant. Turkish security sources said he was a police officer working in the Turkish capital.

The ambassador was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored photo exhibition when a man wearing a suit and tie fired at least eight shots, according to an AP photographer in the audience.

The attacker also said some words in Russian and smashed several of the photos hung for the exhibition.

Turkish authorities stepped security in the area of the fatal shooting.

Melih Gokcek, the mayor of Ankara, said the fatal attack was an attempt to tarnish relations between Turkey and Russia. He made the remarks outside the hospital where the envoy had been taken.

Flashback to downing of Russian jet

On November 24, 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber over Syria, killing one of the pilots. The incident marred the bilateral ties, with Moscow insisting on Ankara’s apology.

Russia had been conducting combat sorties against Takfiri terrorists since late September 2015 upon a request by the Damascus government.

On June 30, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said Turkey had apologized to Moscow for the shooting down of the jet. Ankara insisted that it had only expressed regret over the incident.

Assassination of Moscow’s envoy aimed at ruining Turkey-Russia ties: Erdogan, Putin

Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:31PM

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says both he and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agree that the assassination of Moscow’s envoy to Ankara was an act of provocation by those seeking to ruin relations between both countries.

“We know that this is a provocation aimed at destroying the process of normalization in relations between Turkey and Russia,” said Erdogan during a televised broadcast after a phone conversation with Putin.

Andrey Karlov was shot dead while delivering a speech on the opening of a photo exhibition dubbed “Russia in the eyes of Turks” on Monday.

The assassin has been identified as 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, who had served with the Turkish anti-riot police for around three years. Altintas was “neutralized” by Turkish police after killing the envoy.

Erdogan added that relations between Turkey and Russia were very important for the region and that those who aimed to harm these ties would never succeed.

Earlier this summer, Ankara and Moscow agreed on normalizing their relations after they soured following the last year shooting down of a Russian jet by Turkey over Syria.

‘Attack aimed at sabotaging ties, Syria peace efforts’

Putin also said that the assassination was a “provocation” aimed at sabotaging warming ties between Russia and Turkey and measures being taken to solve the crisis in Syria.

“The crime that was committed is without doubt a provocation aimed at disrupting the normalization of Russian-Turkish relations and disrupting the peace process in Syria that is being actively advanced by Russia, Turkey and Iran,” said Putin during a televised speech.

“There can be only one answer to this — stepping up the fight against terrorism, and the bandits will feel this,” he added.

Putin added that Moscow was sending investigators to Ankara to investigate the incident, adding, “We have to know who directed the hand of the killer.”

Reactions to Russian envoy’s assassination

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has condemned the incident as a “terrorist attack.” “The members of the Security Council reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of terrorist attacks to justice,” the 15-member council said in a statement.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also condemned the “despicable” killing of the Russian envoy.

“We are engaged in a terrible cycle that must lead us, wherever we can, to fight terrorism in all its forms but also to work through negotiation to create the conditions for a lasting peace,” he said. “In the name of France, I must condemn with the greatest possible force this despicable act.”I express my solidarity with Russia, but also Turkey, which is itself a victim of terrorism.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry also strongly condemned the assassination of the Russian ambassador as “barbarous.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also said he was “appalled by this senseless act of terror.” “The secretary-general is following the unfolding situation closely and wishes the other people who were reportedly injured in the attack a speedy and full recovery,” said a statement read by Ban’s spokesman.

Mevlut Mert Altintas can be seen after he was killed by Turkish police after assassinating Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov on December 19, 2016.

Gulen’s movement denies involvement

Following allegations made by an unnamed senior Turkish security official that “very strong signs” show that US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement was behind the attack, the cleric’s spokesman told reporters that such “laughable” claims are only intended to cover up for Turkey’s lax security.

“Gulen categorically condemns this heinous act,” said Alp Aslandogan.

“Turkish and international experts repeatedly have pointed out the deterioration of security and counter-terrorism efforts due to the Turkish government’s assigning hundreds of counter-terrorism police officers to unrelated posts, as well as the firing and imprisoning many others since 2014,” he added.

Iran slams ‘barbarous’ Russian envoy assassination in Ankara

Mon Dec 19, 2016 6:40PM

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned as “barbarous” the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey in a gun attack in the Turkish capital city of Ankara.

Andrey Karlov was shot dead while delivering a speech on the opening of a photo exhibition dubbed “Russia in the eyes of Turks” on Monday.

“This criminal act indicates that terrorists affiliated to extremist and Takfiri groups are not bound by any standards, principles or the international law,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Monday.

    “They are carrying out such brutal measures with the purpose of creating conflict among countries and [spreading] ever more insecurity and instability in the region,” the Iranian spokesperson added.

He described terrorism as the ominous and detestable phenomenon of the century and current era, saying that that the scourge should only be addressed through solidarity and unity among all nations and states as well as a non-stop fight free from any double standards.

    “The Islamic Republic of Iran will stand by governments and nations in the region and across the world until the complete eradication of this vicious phenomenon,” Qassemi stressed.

Following the shooting of Karlov, the assailant reportedly shouted: “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!”
Since last year, Russia has been providing Syrian government forces with air support in their fight against terror groups, particularly in the recent recapture of Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo from foreign-backed militants.

“This is a tragic day in the history of Russian diplomacy. Today, Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov died after being shot at during a public event in Ankara,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Monday evening.

    The assault on the Russian ambassador is an “act of terrorism,” she added.

“We are in touch with Turkish officials, who assured us that there will be a thorough and comprehensive investigation [into the case],” Zakharova said.

According to Turkish NTV broadcaster, three other people were also injured in the attack.

The attacker, himself a police officer, was reportedly killed by Turkish Special Forces.

Elena Panina, a Russian MP and member of the international relations committee, said the assault may have been carried out with the aim of undermining relations between Moscow and Ankara.

“I believe that this is a provocation to disrupt improved dialogue between Russia and Turkey. Moreover, we know that [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is due to visit the Russian Federation. Therefore, it is a pure provocation,” Panina told RIA Novosti news agency.

Following the attack, Erdogan spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the details of Karlov’s death.

    Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has confirmed that scheduled trilateral Russian, Turkish and Iranian negotiations on Syria would not be delayed despite the murder of the Russian ambassador.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian and Turkish counterparts Sergei Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu, respectively, are planned to hold a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday.

Furthermore, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan is to hold talks with his Russian and Turkish counterparts Sergei Shoigu and Fikri Isik, respectively, in Moscow on Tuesday to address the latest developments in the region and the situation on the ground in Syria, especially in the newly liberated city of Aleppo.

US Embassy in Ankara on lockdown after ‘security incident’

Mon Dec 19, 2016 7:26PM

The United States has put its embassy in Ankara on lockdown after assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey at an art gallery nearby.

In a tweet on Monday, the US State Department advised all citizens to avoid the area following reports of a shooting near the embassy.

The alert came just moments after Andrey Karlov, was gunned down at the photo exhibition.

Moscow has said described the assault was a “terrorist act.”

The State Department described the ensuing situation at the embassy, approximately 2.5 miles away from the art gallery, as an “ongoing security incident.”

“All US citizens should avoid area near Embassy compound until further notice,” it said in a tweet.

The department also called on Americans to “avoid travel to southeast Turkey and carefully consider the risks of travel to and throughout the country.”

It is still unknown if the lockdown is related the ambassador’s assassination.

Due to the upsurge in terrorist attacks in Turkey, Washington has been alerting citizens to avoid the country since October 29, cautioning them of “increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey.”

The area where the ambassador was shot dead should specifically be avoided “at least until Tuesday morning, December 20.”

Trump condemns Russian envoy assassination in Ankara

Tue Dec 20, 2016 12:16AM

US President-elect Donald Trump has condemned assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey during a visit to an art gallery in the capital Ankara.

The killing of diplomat Andrei Karlov must be “universally condemned,” said the future president not in a tweet but a written statement released on Monday, describing the move as “violation of all rules of civilized order.”

He also took the chance to use his favorite yet controversial term “radical Islamic” terrorism, over which he was even engaged once in a row with President Barack Obama.

“Today, we offer our condolences to the family and loved ones of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, who was assassinated by a radical Islamic terrorist,” read the statement.

Both Moscow and Ankara hove branded the attack as an “act of terror.”

The assailant was identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old Turkish policeman with Ankara’s riot police squad.

The clean-shaven man wearing a suit shot the Russian envoy in front of the audience at a photo exhibit and started shouting with a gun pointed at the people.

He was himself shot dead at the scene shortly afterwards.

The president-elect also took to Twitter to comment about other attacks during the day, in Germany and Switzerland.

“Today there were terror attacks in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany – and it is only getting worse. The civilized world must change thinking!”

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