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Russian ambassador to Sudan, Mirgayas Shirinsky, was found dead on Wednesday, 23 August at his residence in the Sudanese capital of KhartoumReuters

Mirgayas Shirinsky, the Russian ambassador to Sudan, was found dead at his residence in Sudanese capital Khartoum on Wednesday (23 August). The cause of death was not immediately known.

The Sudanese foreign ministry first broke the news and it was later confirmed by the Russian foreign ministry on Wednesday evening. Initial reports ruled out any "foul play" in the death of the ambassador, the foreign ministries added.

Shirinsky is the ninth Russian diplomat to have died within a year. Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov and senior diplomat Petr Polshikov were both shot dead on the same day on 20 December in Ankara and Moscow respectively. Both the deaths were among the high profile assassination events of the year.

Shirinsky's body was discovered by the employees of the embassy at his residence around 6pm local time (4pm BST), the press secretary of the Sudan mission, Sergey Konyashin, told RT News. The 62-year-old appeared to have symptoms consistent with a serious heart seizure, he added.

The diplomat died while swimming in his pool at his house, AFP reported, citing a diplomatic source.

Although doctors were immediately called in, they were unable to save his life, Konyashin added. The body was taken to a morgue in a Khartoum hospital and procedures were initiated to send it back to Russia.

"We grieve to announce that on August 23 in Khartoum the Russian ambassador to Sudan, M. Shirinsky, died," Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing the foreign ministry in Moscow.

"As soon as we receive detailed information from the Russian embassy staff in Khartoum, we will give information on the circumstances of the death of our colleague," it added.

The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also released a statement mourning the death of the ambassador and said that Shirinsky has "taken true steps to better the relationship between Khartoum and Moscow".

Shirinsky, a fluent Arabic and English speaker, had been a diplomat since 1977 and his postings included Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, according to the Russian embassy website.

He studied at Moscow Institute of International Relations and was appointed as ambassador to Khartoum in 2013.