Russia’s ambassador to Turkey has been assassinated by an off-duty police officer in front of terrified witnesses allegedly in retaliation for the crisis in Aleppo.
The gunman -smartly dressed in a black suit and tie – reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” and said in Turkish “We die in Aleppo, you die here” after shooting Ambassador Andrei Karlov in the back.
The attacker was fatally shot by police after killing Mr Karlov and wounding three others in what Russia’s Foreign Ministry has called “an act of terrorism”.
Mr Karlov, 62, was delivering a speech at an art gallery in the capital of Ankara when he was shot from behind in an attack caught on camera, and then shot at least once more at close range as he lay on the floor.
The gunman – identified by Turkish officials as Mevlut Mert Altıntas – was a police officer who used police identification to enter Ankara’s Centre for Contemporary Arts.
He was a member of Ankara’s elite anti-riot police and was 22-years-old.
After killing the ambassador he reportedly shouted: “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria! As long as our brothers are not safe, you will not enjoy safety.
“Whoever has a share in this oppression will pay for it one-by-one.
“Only death will take me away from here.”
Prosecutors said authorities raided an address linked to the shooter and his family, and Turkish media said the gunman’s mother and sister had been detained for questioning.
Turkey and Russia, the most powerful ally to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, have backed opposite sides in the Syrian war.
Russia’s air strikes were instrumental in helping Syrian forces end rebel resistance in war-torn Aleppo this month.
Officials and Ankara condemned the attack and said it was aimed at disrupting relations between the countries.
The assassination and aftermath were captured on camera, with horrific footage showing Mr Karlov speaking at a podium before falling to the floor as gunshots were heard.
Photos showed the attacker standing behind Mr Karlov with his hands clasped before pulling out a handgun in his right hand and opening fire.
The gunman extended his right arm and pointed the gun at Mr Karlov, and then gestured with his left index finger pointed into the air after shooting the ambassador multiple times.
Witnesses were heard screaming in terror as they ran out of the art gallery, and the gunman was heard shouting slogans as he pointed his finger in the air and pointed his gun towards the fleeing crowd.
He also smashed framed photographs hanging on the art gallery’s walls.
Photos and video published online by Turkish media showed Mr Karlov and a second person on the floor after being shot at the opening of a photography exhibition called “Russia in the Eyes of Turks”.
The event was sponsored by the Russian Embassy in Ankara.