Putin vows to punish ambassador's killers

Putin vows to punish ambassador's killers
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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday vowed to punish those responsible for the assassination of his nation’s ambassador to Turkey.

Ambassador Andrey Karlov was shot and killed earlier Monday when a gunman opened fire in an art gallery located in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara.

“A crime has been committed and it is without a doubt a provocation aimed at spoiling the normalization of Russo-Turkish relations and spoiling the Syrian peace process which is being actively pushed by Russia, Turkey, Iran and others,” Putin said during a special Kremlin meeting in Moscow, according to Reuters.

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“We must know who directed the killer’s hand. There can be only one response – stepping up the fight against terrorism. The bandits will feel this happening.”

Putin, who said he personally knew Karlov, said he had spoken with Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan about Russian investigators helping Turkey probe the killing.

The Russian president also ordered heightened security at Turkish diplomatic facilities in Russia, adding he expects a similar gesture for Russia’s diplomatic presence in Turkey.

Erdogan on Monday also slammed the killing as an attempt to hurt ties between Turkey and Russia.

“This attack is a provocation aimed at disrupting our relations,” he said in a statement on his Twitter account. "I condemn it vehemently.”

Karlov was reportedly several minutes into a speech at the art gallery in Ankara when a gunman dressed in a suit and tie opened fire on him.

The attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar” – “God is great” in Arabic – during the incident, as well as “Don’t forget Syria, don’t forget about Aleppo,” according to Reuters.

Sputnik News identified the shooter as Mevlüt Mert Altintas, 22, who was shot and killed by police at the scene. Altintas was a former police officer who was fired after getting investigated for a role in last July’s coup attempt in Turkey.

Russia and Turkey have been at odds and backed opposite sides in the Syrian civil war. Moscow supports embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Ankara favors the rebels opposing him.