The Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Gennadyevich Karlov, has been shot dead while speaking at an art exhibition in the Turkish capital.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova made the announcement in a live televised statement, Sky News reports.
She said: “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.
“We regard this as a terrorist act. The murderers will be punished.”
The 62-year-old ambassador had been attending an art exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Centre in the Cankaya area of Ankara, along with other dignitaries and media.
The gunman was Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old who had been working for the riot police squad in Ankara for the past two-and-a-half years.
He was off-duty when it was understood he entered the building using his police ID and opened fire on the ambassador as he made a speech.
A video showed him shouting, “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria! So long as our brothers are not in safety, you will not taste safety either. Only my dead body will leave here.
“Whoever is involved in this cruelty, one by one, you will pay for it.”
The gunman also shot three other people, although none were seriously injured, according to Turkey’s interior ministry.
Turkish media said he then climbed to the second floor of the building before a 15-minute shootout with police, during which he was killed.
A photographer from Associated Press who had been at the exhibition said the gunman had been wearing a suit and tie and had shouted “Allahu Akbar” before firing at least eight shots.
He had also spoken in Russian and smashed several of the photos in the exhibition.
Meanwhile, Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin has reacted to the murder of his Ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov who was killed on Monday in the capital, Ankara.
President Putin vowed to ramp up the fight against terror and demanded assurances from Ankara about the safety of Russian diplomats in Turkey.
Both Russia and Turkey agreed to strengthen ties in the wake of the assassination.
In a televised statement President Putin said: “This murder is clearly a provocation aimed at undermining the improvement and normalisation of Russian-Turkish relations as well as undermining the peace process in Syria promoted by Russia, Turkey, Iran and other countries interested in solving this conflict in Syria.
“The only response we should offer to this murder is stepping up our fight against terror. The criminals will feel the heat.
“The Russian investigative committee has already launched an investigation into this killing and has been tasked with forming a working group that will fly to Ankara and join Turkish colleagues investigating this murder, something we agreed on in my phone conversation with the Turkish president just now.
“We have to know who organised the killing, who gave orders to the assassin.
“We need to strengthen security at Russian diplomatic commissions and Turkish diplomatic commissions in Russia.
“We also need to receive guarantees from Turkey that Russian diplomatic missions in Turkey will enjoy strengthened security.”