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Turkish police officer guns down Russian ambassador

By Bethan McKernan

A suited assassin dramatically brandished a pistol for TV cameras as he shouted slogans linked to the war in Syria and shot dead the Russian ambassador to Turkey in Ankara.

Last night's murder is believed to have been an attempt to disrupt relations between Turkey and Russia ahead of planned talks on the future of Syria.

Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot by Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas just a day before the meeting of foreign and defence ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Moscow, and a week before planned Syria peace negotiations in Astana, the Kazakh capital.

"Don't forget Syria! Don't forget Aleppo!" the gunman shouted before he was apprehended and shot dead by police.

Russian forces have supported Syrian president Bashar Assad's troops in the battle to retake rebel-held areas of Aleppo in recent weeks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking in televised remarks during a meeting with senior officials, said that the killing of Mr Karlov was a "provocation aimed at derailing Russia-Turkey ties and the peace process in Syria". Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the assassination as "a provocation to damage the normalisation process of Turkish-Russian relations".

"But both the Russian and Turkish administrations have the determination not to fall for this provocation," he added.

Both leaders said that Russian investigators will be part of the probe into the assassination.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson condemned the "despicable murder" of the ambassador.

Mr Johnson said the shooting of Andrei Karlov was a "cowardly attack" after Russia's foreign ministry confirmed the diplomat's death.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon told MPs it was "a shocking act involving a diplomat who should otherwise, of course, enjoy proper protection", adding: "His murder does not bring any conflict in the Middle East further to a resolution."

Richard Moore, the UK's ambassador to Turkey, said on Twitter: "Devastating news about Andrei Karlov. My wife and my thoughts with his wife Marina and family and to all colleagues at Russian Embassy."

He described Mr Karlov as "quietly spoken, hospitable (and) professional".

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