Russian ambassador to Turkey shot dead by police officer in Ankara gallery w/video’s

The Guardian – By Shaun Walker/Moscow-Kareem Shaheen/Istanbul-Martin Chulov/Beirut-Patrick Wintour/London – Tuesday 20 December 2016
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Photo: Russian Ambassador to Turkey shot dead by off duty policeman in Ankara Art Gallery.

The Russian ambassador to Turkey has been shot dead by a police officer who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo” as he pulled the trigger.

The chilling attack on Monday evening, which was captured on video, appeared to be a backlash against Russian military involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Andrei Karlov was attacked at the opening of an art exhibition in Ankara by a man believed to be an off-duty Turkish police officer. Karlov was several minutes into a speech when he was shot. Footage of the attack showed a man dressed in a suit and tie standing calmly behind the ambassador. He then pulled out a gun, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and fired at least eight shots.

After firing at the ambassador, the man shouted in Turkish: “Don’t forget Aleppo. Don’t forget Syria. Unless our towns are secure, you won’t enjoy security. Only death can take me from here. Everyone who is involved in this suffering will pay a price.”

He also shouted in Arabic: “We are the one who pledged allegiance to Muhammad, to wage jihad.”

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, called the killing a “provocation” aimed at sabotaging a rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara and attempts to resolve the conflict in Syria.

“The crime that was committed is without doubt a provocation aimed at disrupting the normalisation of Russian-Turkish relations and disrupting the peace process in Syria that is being actively advanced by Russia, Turkey and Iran,” he said in televised comments.

Putin said: “There can be only one answer to this – stepping up the fight against terrorism, and the bandits will feel this.”

Putin said that Russian officials would be dispatched to Ankara to investigate the killing. “We have to know who directed the hand of the killer,” he said.

His comments were echoed by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov who said, following a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusgolu, that those behind the shooting “were seeking to derail the process of normalising Russia-Turkey ties primarily with a goal to prevent an efficient fight against terrorism in Syria.”

Lavrov will meet with the foreign ministers of Iran and Turkey later on Tuesday to discuss Syria.

The attacker was killed by Turkish special forces after they surrounded the gallery. Photographs from the aftermath appeared to show him lying dead on the floor. Three other people were wounded.

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Photo: The gunman gestures after shooting Karlov. Photograph: Burhan Ozbilici/AP.

Local media outlets said security guards at the scene had told them that the killer showed a police ID to enter the gallery. The Turkish interior ministry named the attacker as Mevlut Mert Alt?ntas, an officer in Ankara’s riot police squad, who was born in 1994 in Aydin and graduated from Izmir police academy.
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The shooter’s family home in the western province of Aydin was later searched and his mother, father and sister were detained, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency. . Alt?ntas’s house in Ankara was raided and his roommate, also a police officer, was also taken into custody, it said.

“It has saddened us and our people. I offer my condolences to the Russian federation and the Russian people,” Suleyman Soylu, the Turkish interior minster, told reporters.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, called Putin on Monday evening to brief him on the attack.

The Russian president cancelled a planned trip to the theatre on Monday evening and called an urgent meeting with his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the heads of the security services.

In a bizarre coincidence, Putin had planned to see the play Woe from Wit, written by the poet and diplomat Alexander Griboyedov, who was murdered by a mob when ambassador to Tehran in 1829.

Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign relations committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said: “A tragedy of this scale has not happened since the time of Griboyedov. There have been attacks on our Russian and Soviet diplomats, but not something this dramatic.”

Kosachev said the repercussions of the killing on Russian-Turkish relations would depend on the details of the incident: “It could have been a planned terrorist attack by extremists or it could be the work of a lone maniac. After we know, we’ll be able to understand how this will affect Russian-Turkish relations.”

Read entire article with videos here

Posted by Teri Perticone

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