Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said Colombo considered the attack a violation of the right of all diplomats to represent their nations peacefully around the world.
The Reuters news agency said the Russian foreign ministry confirmed the death of envoy Andrei Karlov, which marked one of the most serious spillovers of the Syria conflict. Turkey has struggled with a string of attacks by Islamist and Kurdish militants but the killing of a Russian envoy could have resonance throughout the region.
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. President Tayyip Erdogan, however, has been a vociferous opponent of Assad.
“We regard this as a terrorist act,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “Terrorism will not win and we will fight against it decisively.”
The attacker was smartly dressed in black suit and tie, and standing behind the ambassador as he made his speech at an 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.
Two security sources identified the gunman as an off-duty police officer who worked in the Turkish capital.
A Reuters cameraman at the scene said gunfire rang out for some time after the attack. The Anadolu news agency said the gunman had been “neutralized”, apparently killed.
A video showed the attacker shouting: “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” As screams rang out, he could be seen pacing about and shouting as he held the gun in one hand and waved the other in the air.
Another photograph showed four people including what appeared to be the ambassador lying on the floor. (Colombo Gazette)