OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the cold-blooded shooting of the Russian ambassador in Turkey is a grim reminder of the threats faced by all diplomats — including Canada’s — while serving abroad.
Andrei Karlov was shot to death Monday at the opening of a photo exhibit in Ankara by a man who was later killed by police.
Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion offered their condolences to Russia and the family of slain Russian envoy.
“This is something of concern for the entire diplomatic community,” the prime minister said during a year-end interview with The Canadian Press.
“I hope and I pray that Canadians will be safe and diplomats will be safe over the holiday season.”
Governments around the world offered condolences of their own, deploring what the United States called a heinous act.
The Turkish government said the assassin was himself a policeman. The Associated Press reported that the gunman was shouting, “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!”
The comment was an apparent reference to Russia’s backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the fall of the rebel-held city of Aleppo.
In a separate interview Monday with The Canadian Press, Dion called the incident a reminder of the sacrifices Canadian diplomats make on sometimes dangerous missions.
“They are incredibly dedicated. They made this choice. They are proud of it. I think not only about them but of their families,” he said.
In some insecure situations, the families of diplomats have had to be sent out of the country for their own safety, Dion added.
“Imagine this kind of situation — what it means for the parents. And they accept it. They serve their country with pride.”
Monday’s shootings marked the latest overflow of violence into Turkey from grinding civil war in neighbouring Syria.
In June, three suicide bombers attacked Istanbul’s airport, leaving dozens dead. That followed two separate suicide bomb attacks in Istanbul that killed 10 in January and four in March.
Turkey is a NATO partner of Canada in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Canadian soldiers are advising Kurdish fighters in Iraq in their fight against ISIL, and Canada also has reconnaissance and refuelling planes in the region, as well as a medical facility.