Netanyahu condemns ‘brutal’ killing of Russia’s Ankara envoy
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Netanyahu condemns ‘brutal’ killing of Russia’s Ankara envoy

PM says ambassador’s murder serves as ‘stark reminder’ of imperative to remain united in fighting terrorism

This picture taken on December 19, 2016 in Ankara shows guests leaving a gallery as a gunman holds a weapon, during an attack where Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, was shot. (AFP/ Hurryet/Hasim KILIC)
This picture taken on December 19, 2016 in Ankara shows guests leaving a gallery as a gunman holds a weapon, during an attack where Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, was shot. (AFP/ Hurryet/Hasim KILIC)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Monday assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, calling the murder of Andrey Karlov a “stark reminder” of the need for unity in the face of terrorism.

“Israel condemns the brutal assassination of Ambassador Andrey Karlov this evening in Ankara,” a Monday night statement from the prime minister said. “We send our deepest condolences to his family and to the Russian people.”

“The murder of a diplomat serves as a stark reminder of the need for the civilized world to come together in fighting the forces of terrorism.”

Earlier on Monday evening, a Turkish policeman crying “Aleppo” and “Allahu Akbar” shot Karlov dead at an art exhibition in Ankara, apparently as an act of revenge for the Russian bombing of Aleppo in Syria.

Dramatic television footage showed the moment the veteran diplomat was shot as he attended the opening of a show of Russian photographs at the Ankara exhibition hall.

A man gestures near to Andrei Karlov on ground, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
A man gestures near to Andrey Karlov on ground, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Images showed the ambassador standing up to speak at a lectern, before stumbling and crashing to the ground, lying flat on his back as the attacker — dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and tie — brandishes his gun at terrified onlookers.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said the gunman — identified as 22-year-old policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas — had been “neutralized” in a police operation inside the hall after 15 minutes of clashes.

The attack came a day before the Turkish, Russian and Iranian foreign ministers were to hold unprecedented three-way talks on the Syria conflict in Moscow.

Russia, the Syrian regime’s main ally in a nearly six-year war that has ravaged the Arab country, has helped President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to retake the battleground city of Aleppo, once Syria’s largest and most prosperous, from rebels.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Monday also condemned Karlov’s “despicable” assassination.

“We are engaged in a terrible cycle that must lead us, wherever we can, to fight terrorism in all its forms but also to work through negotiation to create the conditions for a lasting peace,” Ayrault said during a visit to the Colombian capital Bogota.

“In the name of France, I must condemn with the greatest possible force this despicable act,” he said. “I express my solidarity with Russia, but also Turkey, which is itself a victim of terrorism,” he added.

The Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov speaks at a gallery in Ankara Monday Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
The Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov speaks at a gallery in Ankara Monday Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

In a statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the attack, and said he was “appalled by this senseless act of terror.”

“There can be no justification for the targeting of diplomatic personnel and civilians,” Ban said.

The UN Security Council will on Tuesday observe a minute a silence to pay tribute to Karlov, said Spanish ambassador Roman Oyarzun, the current council president.

The Syrian foreign ministry in Damascus has also denounced the murder as a “despicable crime,” state news agency SANA said.

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