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Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov, Assassinated in Ankara

Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov, Assassinated in Ankara

Andrey Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot multiple times while giving a speech at the opening of an art exhibit in Akara, Turkey. The December 19th event was hosted by the Ankara Center for Contemporary Art. Karlov’s death was later confirmed by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Audible declarations of the gunman following the shooting help to shed light on his motivation.

Photo of Karlov taken moments before he was assassinated. Karlov's assassin is seen in the background on the left. Credit: Burhan Ozbilici/AP

Footage reveals the gunman shouting, “We die in Aleppo, you die here!” in Arabic, after shooting Karlov. By showing a police badge, the gunman was able to enter the event undetected and bypass gallery security. He then stood behind Ambassador Karlov as if he was standing guard. 

According to security analyst Metin Gurcan, the gunman was 22-year-old Turkish Police Officer Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş of the Ankara Police Special Force Department. Altıntaş earned his badge after graduating from the İzmir Rüştü Ünsal Police Academy in 2014.

Güney Yildiz, journalist with the BBC focusing on Turkey, Kurdistan, and ISIL, reports the gunman also shouted, “Don't forget Aleppo. Don't forget Syria” in Turkish. The gunman’s affiliations remain unclear. Experts are scrambling to identify whether the gunman had al-Nusra, ISIL, or Gülen roots. But the ongoing threat of lone wolf attacks is clear.

These attacks remain the most difficult for law enforcement and intelligence officials to predict or prevent. With the passive response from the international human rights community, to state sponsored killing in Syria, tensions are boiling over. Whether this violence or acts like it provoke the United Nations to intervene on behalf of innocent civilians in Syria remains unknown.

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