Russian Ambassador to Turkey Assassinated in Ankara
Dec. 19, 2016 (EIRNS)—Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei G. Karlov, was shot dead today, while delivering an address at an art museum in Ankara. After being wounded by the lone gunman, Karlov was transported to a hospital, where he died. Three other people were wounded in the attack.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu later identified the attacker as a 22-year-old former police officer by the name of Mevlüt Mert Altintas. According to news reports, he was heard shouting, "Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria! As long as our brothers are not safe, you will not enjoy safety." A Dutch website posted video footage of the shooting online, in which Altintas was seen wearing a suit and reportedly entered the premises using his police identification. He then shot Karlov in the back as the ambassador was speaking. RT reports that Turkish special forces killed Altintas following the shooting.
In both Ankara and Moscow, government officials vowed that Karlov’s assassination would not affect Turkish-Russian relations and that those responsible would be found and brought to justice. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Russian President Vladimir Putin to brief him on the attack, according to Erdogan’s presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu was already on his way to Moscow for a tripartite meeting on Syria with his Russian and Iranian counterparts when the attack occurred. He and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are expected to hold a joint press conference in Moscow on the assassination, reports Hurriyet.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said today,
"Ambassador Karlov is a unique diplomat who earned appreciation of all state cadre by his professional and personal competences as he carried out successful works at a very difficult time in Turkey. His memory will always with us. We will not allow this attack to overshadow Turkish-Russian friendship."
Karlov had been ambassador in Ankara since July 2013 and had earlier in his diplomatic career worked extensively in North Korea.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said today, that the Russian government considers the attack on Karlov a terrorist attack.
"Terrorism shall not pass, we will take resolute efforts against it," Zakharova stressed, reported TASS. "The memory of the outstanding Russian diplomat, the man who has done much to counter terrorism, Andrei Karlov, will always stay in our hearts." She said that the issue of the attack will be raised immediately at the UN Security Council.
The attack was also condemned from around the world. According to a roundup in TASS, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was among the first international diplomats to send condolences to the Russian government. Other messages came from Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary General, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the Syrian Foreign Ministry, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and others.
"The United States condemns the assassination today in Ankara of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov," Kerry said in a statement.
"We stand ready to offer assistance to Russia and Turkey as they investigate this despicable attack, which was also an assault on the right of all diplomats to safely and securely advance and represent their nations around the world."