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Karlov’s Assassination Raises Fears among Diplomatic Missions in Turkey | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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General view of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. (Reuters)

Ankara – The assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, on Monday in Ankara, raised safety concerns among diplomatic missions in Turkey.

Washington and Tehran both announced suspending normal operations of their diplomatic missions, and called on their nationals to maintain high level of vigilance.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara and its consulates in Istanbul and Adana closed for normal operations on Tuesday after a man approached the embassy and discharged a firearm.

Authorities said the man fired eight to nine times into the air with a rifle he had concealed in his coat. There were no reported injuries from the incident.

The incident came few hours after the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at a nearby art gallery in the capital by an off-duty Turkish police officer, who was then shot by security forces.

“Mission Turkey informs U.S. citizens that Embassy Ankara, Consulate General Istanbul, and Consulate Adana will re-open Wednesday, December 21 on a limited-operation basis,” a message stated on Wednesday. “Only emergency consular services will be provided”, it added.

Iran also announced that it would suspend normal operations on Tuesday at its consulates in the Turkish cities of Istanbul, Trabzon and Erzurum.

“All consular services in Iranian consulates in Istanbul, Trabzon and Erzurum will be closed on Tuesday, December 20. We urge all Iranians to avoid visiting these locations,” the embassy said in a statement on its website.

A foreign ministry spokesman said that the Iranian diplomatic missions to Turkey would be closed “temporarily”.

Meanwhile, latest investigations into Karlov’s assassination revealed that Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 23-year-old riot police officer, shouted to the crowd, “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!” adding: “You will not have security as long as our brothers are not enjoying it”.

Investigations sources noted that Altintas’ statements echoed stances of former Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who repeatedly said that the “U.S. cannot dream of security before we concretely witness it in Palestine.”

Senior security officials told Reuters that on Monday morning, Altintas called the division of the Ankara riot police where he had worked for a couple of years and said he was unwell and would bring a doctor’s note upon his return.

Other media sources said that Altintas had previously worked within the personal protection teams of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.