Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Russian Diplomat Assassinated by Off-Duty Policeman

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Russian Diplomat Assassinated by Off-Duty Policeman

Article excerpt

Byline: Burhan Ozbilici and Suzan Fraser Reporters

AGUNMAN shouted slogans about Syria's civil war after he killed Russia's ambassador to Turkey in front of stunned onlookers at a photo exhibition in Ankara.

Ambassador Andrei Karlov, 62, was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored exhibition when a man fired a-t least eight shots, according to reports.

"Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria," the gunman shouted in Turkish, referring to the Syrian city where Russian bombardments have helped drive rebels from areas they had occupied for years during the war.

He also shouted: "Allahu akbar," the Arabic phrase for "God is great" and continued in Arabic: "We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Mohammad, for jihad."

The gunman approached Mr Karlov as he lay on the ground and shot him at least one more time at close range.

The attacker, who the Turkish interior minister said was an off-duty policeman, also smashed several of the framed photos hung for the exhibition. There was panic as people ran for cover. Three other people were wounded in the attack, Turkey's NTV television said.

After shooting the ambassador, the gunman climbed to the second floor of the same building and a 15-minute shoot-out with police ensued before he was killed, Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported.

The attack comes a day before a meeting of Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign and defence ministers in Moscow to discuss Syria. Russia and Iran have backed Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the nearly six-year conflict, while Turkey has supported Mr Assad's opponents. "It's a tragic day in the history of our country and Russian diplomacy," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in televised comments.

"Ambassador Karlov has made a lot of personal contributions to the development of ties with Turkey. …

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