Update: Russian ambassador shot dead in Ankara

Andrey Karlov was speaking at an exhibition in the capital Ankara when he was shot by an unidentified man

Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov has died after being shot multiple times at an art exhibition in Turkey’s capital Ankara on Monday evening.

The announcement came from Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

Karlov was delivering a speech at the opening ceremony of an art gallery when an armed assailant opened fire on him and then in the air, according to Anadolu Agency correspondent who witnessed the incident.

The envoy had been seriously wounded at the scene and had been taken to Guven Hospital in Cankaya immediately after being shot.

The assailant was ‘neutralized’ during an operation that lasted around 15 minutes by police special forces at the scene, the Contemporary Arts Gallery in Ankara’s central Cankaya district.

The attacker let the guests out of the exhibition venue after he shot the diplomat, according to local media reports. Several media outlets reported that a gun fight ensued after Karlov was shot.

Turkey’s interior minister Suleyman Soylu had reached the location of the attack. Local broadcaster NTV television said at least three people were wounded and were taken to the hospital.

A witness talking to Turkey’s CNNTurk television said that the attacker was acting alone.

“He said that I will not leave this place alive,” the attacker said, according to the witness. The assailant reportedly talked about the situation in Aleppo after he shot the ambassador multiple times.

Turkish television news channel said the attacker said, “You will pay Aleppo’s account.” The attack came after days of protests in Turkey over Russia’s role in Syria.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that President Vladimir Putin was informed about the incident.

“We informed President Putin. We are checking information,” Peskov added.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said they are in touch with Turkish authorities.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department condemned the attack “whatever its source”.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.