Russian ambassador dies after being shot in Ankara

Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot while making a speech at an art gallery in Ankara.

A screengrab of the gunman brandishing a gun after shooting the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov.

TURKEY – The Russian ambassador to Ankara was shot in an attack at an art gallery in the Turkish capital on Monday and a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman has confirmed the death of envoy Andrei Karlov, which marked one of the most serious spillovers of the Syria conflict into Turkey.

Russia is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its air strikes were instrumental in helping Syrian forces end rebel resistance last week in the northern city of Aleppo.

The Anadolu news agency said the gunman had been "neutralised" soon after the attack.

Relations between Moscow and Ankara have long been fraught over the conflict, with the two supporting opposing sides.

Tensions have escalated in recent weeks as Russian-backed Syrian forces have fought for control of the eastern part of the city of Aleppo, triggering a stream of refugees.

Ambassador Andrei Karlov made a speech at the opening of a photographic exhibition. _Hurriyet _newspaper said Turkish special forces had surrounded the building. NTV said three other people were wounded.

The attacker was smartly dressed in black suit and tie, and standing behind the ambassador as he made a speech at the art exhibition, a person at the scene told Reuters.

"He took out his gun and shot the ambassador from behind. We saw him lying on the floor and then we ran out," said the witness, who asked not to be identified.

A Reuters cameraman at the scene said gunfire rang out for some time after the attack.

A video showed the attacker shouting: "Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria!"

As screams rang out, the gunman could then be seen pacing about and shouting as he held the gun in one hand and waved the other in the air. Four people, including what appeared to be the ambassador, lay on the floor.

_WATCH: The moment Ambassador Andrei Karlov is shot _(Warning graphic content)

The attack on the Russian ambassador to Turkey on Monday was an attempt at ruining Turkish relations with Moscow, the mayor of Ankara said.

Melih Gokcek made the comment to reporters outside the hospital where the ambassador was taken after being shot in an art gallery in the Turkish capital.