Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, has been shot dead by a gunman in Ankara reportedly in protest Russia's involvement in the Syrian conflict. Several other have also been injured.
Karlov was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored exhibition when a man wearing a suit and tie shouted "Allahu akbar" and fired at least eight shots, according to an AP photographer in the audience.
Some reports say the gunman, who has been "neutralised", also shouted "We will make you pay for Aleppo". In video making the rounds of social media, the gunman could be seen standing calmly behind Karlov before pulling out a pistol and opening fire.
The gunman who shot the ambassador was a police officer who worked in the Turkish capital, two security sources told Reuters. Local media, citing security guards at the scene, said the killer showed a police ID to enter the gallery.
Karlov, 62, joined the diplomatic service in 1976, and has served as the country's ambassador to Turkey since 2013. He served as Russia's ambassador to Pyongyang from 2001 to 2006, and later worked as the chief of the Foreign Ministry's consular department.
Russia has said it regards the killing of its ambassador to Ankara "as a terrorist attack".
"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," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. "We regard this as a terrorist act."
Talks to continue
The attack comes a day before a meeting of Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign and defense ministers in Moscow to discuss the future of Syria.
The situation has been even more intense over the last few weeks as Russian-backed Syrian forces have fought for control of the eastern part of the city of Aleppo.
Interfax news agency reports that the talks are still scheduled to continue despite the assassination.
Russia and Iran have backed Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey has supported Assad's foes in the four-year long conflict.
The United Nations has condemned the killing of the Russian ambassador to Ankara.
"We condemn the gun attack on the Russian ambassador to Turkey. There can be no justification for an attack on a diplomat or an ambassador," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
"We hope that the perpetrator will be brought to justice."
Thoughts w. my Russian colleague Andrei Karlov, his wife & family after this terrible attack. Quietly spoken, hospitable professional.— Richard Moore (@UKAmbRichard) December 19, 2016