Gun­man kills Rus­sian am­bas­sador in Ankara

At­tacker shouts ‘Don’t for­get Aleppo’ Amir con­demns mur­der

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A Turk­ish po­lice­man cry­ing “Aleppo” and “Al­lahu Ak­bar” shot dead Rus­sia’s am­bas­sador to Turkey at an art ex­hi­bi­tion in Ankara yes­ter­day, in what Moscow termed a “ter­ror­ist act”. An­drei Karlov died of his wounds af­ter the shoot­ing, which oc­curred on the eve of a key meet­ing be­tween the Rus­sian, Turk­ish and Ira­nian for­eign min­is­ters on the Syria con­flict. Dra­matic tele­vi­sion footage showed the man - smartly dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and tie - wav­ing a gun and ges­tur­ing in the air at the Ankara ex­hi­bi­tion hall where the vet­eran diplo­mat was open­ing a show of Rus­sian pho­to­graphs.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said the gun­man had been “neu­tral­ized” - ap­par­ently killed -in a po­lice op­er­a­tion in­side the hall af­ter 15 min­utes of clashes. “To­day in Ankara as a re­sult of an at­tack the Rus­sian am­bas­sador to Turkey An­drei Karlov re­ceived wounds that he died from,” Rus­sian for­eign min­istry spokes­woman Maria Zakharova said in tele­vised com­ments. “We qual­ify what hap­pened as a ter­ror­ist act,” she added. “The mur­der­ers will be pun­ished. To­day this is­sue will be raised at the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. Ter­ror­ism will not win out,” she added.

HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad AlJaber Al-Sabah strongly con­demned the killing of the Rus­sian am­bas­sador yes­ter­day. The Amir, in a ca­ble to Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, said this ter­ror­ist act con­tra­vened diplo­matic norms and moral val­ues. Kuwait strongly re­jects all forms of ter­ror­ism, HH the Amir af­firmed. HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Ha­mad Al-Sabah sent sim­i­lar ca­bles.

The mayor of Ankara Melih Gokcek iden­ti­fied the at­tacker as a Turk­ish po­lice­man. The Yeni Safak daily said on its web­site that the at­tacker - named as MM A - worked with anti-riot po­lice in Ankara. Gokcek, known for his out­spo­ken com­ments, spec­u­lated on his of­fi­cial Twit­ter ac­count that the po­lice­man may be linked to the group of Fethul­lah Gulen blamed for the July 15 coup aimed at top­pling Er­do­gan.

The in­ci­dent came af­ter days of protests in Turkey over Rus­sia’s role in Syria, al­though Moscow and Ankara are now work­ing closely to­gether to evac­u­ate cit­i­zens from the bat­tered city of Aleppo. The United States con­demned the at­tack, while British am­bas­sador Richard Moore paid trib­ute to a “qui­etly spo­ken, hos­pitable pro­fes­sional”. Er­do­gan phoned Putin to brief him about the at­tack, pres­i­den­tial spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.

The shoot­ing took place at the Cag­das Sanat­lar Merkezi, a ma­jor art ex­hi­bi­tion hall in the Cankaya dis­trict of Ankara where most for­eign em­bassies are lo­cated in­clud­ing Rus­sia’s mis­sion. Karlov was sev­eral min­utes into his speech at the em­bassy-spon­sored ex­hi­bi­tion when the gun­man fired at least eight shots, ac­cord­ing to an AP pho­tog­ra­pher in the au­di­ence. The at­tacker also smashed sev­eral of the pho­tos hung for the ex­hi­bi­tion. There was panic as peo­ple ran for cover.

“It hap­pened dur­ing the open­ing of an ex­hi­bi­tion,” Hur­riyet cor­re­spon­dent Hasim Kilic, who was at the scene, told AFP. “When the am­bas­sador was de­liv­er­ing a speech, a tall man wear­ing a suit, fired into the air first and then took aim at the am­bas­sador,” said Kilic. “He said some­thing about Aleppo and ‘re­venge’. He or­dered the civil­ians to leave the room. When peo­ple were flee­ing, he fired again,” he added.

Images showed the am­bas­sador stand­ing up to speak at a lectern at the open­ing of the photo ex­hi­bi­tion called “Rus­sia from Kalin­ingrad to Kam­chatka” show­ing images from Rus­sia’s far west to its far east. He stum­bles and then crashes to the ground af­ter be­ing shot, ly­ing flat on his back as the be­suited at­tacker bran­dishes the gun at ter­ri­fied on­look­ers. The man shouts “Al­lahu Ak­bar” (“God is Great­est”) and then talks about pledg­ing al­le­giance to ji­had in Ara­bic, the images showed. Switch­ing to Turk­ish, he then says: “Don’t for­get about Syria, don’t for­get about Aleppo. All those who par­tic­i­pate in this tyranny will be held ac­count­able”.

Pro­test­ers in Turkey have held Moscow re­spon­si­ble for hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in Aleppo with thou­sands turn­ing out for protests out­side the Rus­sian con­sulate in Is­tan­bul. But po­lit­i­cal re­la­tions have warmed, with in­tense con­tacts be­tween the two sides in re­cent days to ease the sit­u­a­tion in Aleppo. Turkey and Rus­sia saw re­la­tions plunge to their worst lev­els since the Cold War last year when a Turk­ish jet shot down a Rus­sian war plane over Syria. They stand on op­po­site sides of the Syria con­flict with Ankara back­ing rebels try­ing to top­ple Moscow ally Pres­i­dent Bashar Al-As­sad.

But the rhetoric has warmed con­sid­er­ably since a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion deal was signed ear­lier this year and a Rus­sian and Turk­ish-bro­kered ac­cord has helped the evac­u­a­tion of cit­i­zens from Aleppo in the last days. The at­tack comes a day be­fore Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu, Rus­sian coun­ter­part Sergei Lavrov, and For­eign Min­is­ter Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, As­sad’s other key ally, were to hold un­prece­dented tri­par­tite talks on the Syria con­flict in Moscow.

The Syr­ian for­eign min­istry in Da­m­as­cus de­nounced the mur­der as a “de­spi­ca­ble crime”, state news agency SANA said. Cavu­soglu learned of the news while on the plane to Moscow, Turk­ish tele­vi­sion said. A Turk­ish of­fi­cial yes­ter­day de­nied Ankara had forged any se­cret “bar­gain” with Moscow over the fu­ture of Syria, de­spite the im­prov­ing co­op­er­a­tion that led to the deal for evac­u­a­tions from Aleppo. Born in 1954 in Moscow, Karlov was a ca­reer diplo­mat who be­gan his ca­reer un­der the USSR in 1976. He was Rus­sian am­bas­sador to North Korea from 2001-2006. — Agen­cies


ANKARA: Rus­sian Am­bas­sador to Turkey An­drei Karlov is seen on the floor af­ter be­ing shot by a gun­man (right) dur­ing a public event in the Turk­ish cap­i­tal.

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