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Russian Ambassador Dies Following Shooting Attack in Turkey

Al Jazeera News reported moments ago that a Russian Ambassador was shot in the Turkish capital of Ankara Monday after he was reportedly visiting a photo exhibit.

Andrey Karlov has been the Russian ambassador to Turkey since July 2013; the longtime diplomat has served the Kremlin in a wide variety of capacities, including ambassadorships to North Korea before serving in his current role.

Karlov was transferred immediately to a hospital and his condition is currently unknown, though reports indicate at this time that he is seriously injured; no additional information about the suspected attacks are known at this time. NTV broadcasting reported that three others were also wounded in the attack.

Journalist Yannis Koutsomitis took to social media moments ago to report that according to eye witness accounts from inside the exhibition hall, there was an exchange of words about the ongoing crisis in Aleppo, Syria.

Turkey and Russia have found themselves on ideologically different planes regarding the humanitarian crisis that has ravaged parts of Syria; pro-regime factions in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are largely aligned with Russia’s rhetoric, who last week sought to close in on the final groups of rebels controlling parts of war-torn Aleppo. Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week, “We’re seeing the most cruel form of savagery in Aleppo, and the regime and its supporters are responsible for this. The wounded are not being let out and people are dying of starvation.” Claims and counterclaims from both sides have further complicated ceasefire efforts aimed at providing key humanitarian aid as well as providing a pathway for Aleppo residents to seek refuge in neighboring Turkey.

Richard Engel of NBC News reported that at this time the gunman is thought to have been shot dead at the scene. This story is developing and we will update as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: 12:19 p.m. EST: RT is reporting that Karlov has died as a result of his injuries.

UPDATE: 1:13 p.m. EST: The Daily Beast has a translation of what the gunman allegedly said:

The shooter’s name is Mert Altintas, and reports have indicated that he was a Turkish special forces police officer. Altintas was killed at the scene.

Russian authorities have declared that Karlov’s murder was an act of terrorism.

UPDATE – 3:24 p.m. ET: Both the White House and the Kremlin have offered responses to the assassination:

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the attack as an attempt to sabotage Russian-Turkish international relations.

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