Ankara: The Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, 62, was shot dead during the inauguration of an art exhibition in Ankara by an off-duty officer of the Ankara special forces police department, 22-year-old Mevlüt Mert Altintas, who raised slogans about Syria’s civil war after committing the crime.
Altintas was standing behind the ambassador during the speech.
“Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” the gunman shouted in Turkish after shooting the ambassador, interspersing his outburst with “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest).
The policeman-turned-terrorist also shouted in Arabic to the crowd, “We have made an oath to Muhammad to die in martyrdom — a revenge for Syria and Aleppo.”
He said, “We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad, for jihad. Whoever took part in this cruelty will pay the price, one by one … Only death will take me from here.” He added, “Only death will remove me from here. Everyone who has taken part in this oppression will one by one pay for it.”
Altintas, who also uttered a few words in Russian, was later shot dead by the security forces after a 15-minute exchange of fire. His mother, father and sister were detained for questioning at their homes in western Turkey. The police have also detained 4 suspects related to Altintas.
The exhibition at the Centre for Modern Art where the ambassador was shot dead was showcasing Turkish photographs of Russia.
Hours after the incident at the art gallery, another armed man, identified later as Şahin S, was arrested early in the morning after he fired on police while trying to enter the US embassy in Ankara.
“We regard this as a terrorist act,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova said, adding, “Terrorism will not win and we will fight against it decisively.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusgolu have issued a joint statement that urged the people to ignore provocations that, they said, were aimed at undermining bilateral relations and affecting their cooperation in fighting terrorists in Syria and Iraq.