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Erdogan says Russian diplomat’s assassination in Ankara ‘obvious provocation’

The Turkish president also said that Russia and Turkey were setting up a joint investigation committee

ANKARA, December 19. /TASS/. The assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov earlier in the day is an obvious provocation aimed to disrupt relations between the two countries, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was cited as saying in an interview with local television.

"I resolutely condemn the murder of Russian Ambassador in Ankara Andrei Karlov," Erdogan said. "Today I had the chance of discussing the tragedy with Russian President Vladimir Putin just in the minutes of the incident."

"I express my deepest condolences to the people of Russia," Erdogan said.

The Turkish president also said that Russia and Turkey were setting up "a joint investigation committee to probe" the assassination of the senior Russian diplomat.

"Putin said during the conversation that Russian investigators must be taking part in the investigation as well," Erdogan said. "There will be no barriers for their participation in the investigation on our behalf."

"We have said that such joint activity can be implemented and issued relevant orders to our departments and the government," the Turkish leader added.

Earlier in the day, an unidentified assailant opened rapid gunfire in the Turkish capital of Ankara during the opening ceremony of the photo exhibition dedicated to bilateral relations between Russia and Turkey and called ‘Russia through Turks’ eyes.’

Russian Ambassador to Turkey Karlov, who had been invited to the opening ceremony of the exhibition, was shot during the attack and later died in a hospital of the sustained wounds.

Three more people also sustained gun wounds during the attack, according to various media reports. Local news outlets reported that the suspected assailant was killed by law enforcers.

The Russian diplomatic mission in Ankara stated that there were no other citizens of Russia, who had been harmed as a result of the fatal armed attack in the Turkish capital.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told journalists that the gunman was identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a former special task police officer born in 1994.