Russia's ambassador to Turkey was fatally shot Monday at an art exhibition by a gunman shouting in Arabic " God is great! Those who pledge allegiance to Muhammad for jihad. God is great!".
Andrey Karlov was just delivering a speech at a museum in Turkish capital Ankara when a man dressed in a suit and tie appeared and started shooting. The gunman fired eight shots, wounded three more people and smashed photos in the exhibit. He continued his rants and switched to Turkish, and yelled " Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria! Step back! Step back! Only death can take me from here!". The Turkish police then shot the gunman dead.
Karlov was rushed to a hospital but did not survive. Authorities have yet to release the identity of the gunman, but other police sources say the killer was a 22-year-old officer in the Ankara Special Forces who was able to enter the venue by flashing his ID.
Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the killing as a " cowardly attempt" to disrupt the normalization of Russian-Turkish relations. Putin also said that he knows Karlov personally whom he described as very intelligent, gentle person and kind.
The Russian embassy in Washington denounced the shooting incident as a " terror attack." The White House also said in a statement that the assassination of Karlov was unacceptable and that the U.S. stands united with Russia and Turkey in their determination to confront terrorism in all its forms.
Relations between Russia and Turkey have been marked with tension in the past years over the war in Syria. Just last year, Moscow cut ties after the Turks shot down a Russian jet on the Syrian border.
There have been protests in the recent days by Turks who are angry over Russia's support for Syrian government and the destruction of Aleppo. The Turkish Foreign Minister was supposed to head tomorrow to Moscow for talks about the Syrian civil war with Russian and Iranian diplomats. It is not clear whether the assassination of Karlov, who has stayed in Ankara for three years, would affect the planned talks.