An Ankara police officer dressed in a suit and tie shouted slogans about Syria’s civil war after he killed Russia’s ambassador to Turkey in front of stunned onlookers at a photo exhibition in the Turkish capital on Monday, according to officials and an Associated Press photographer who witnessed the shooting. Police later killed the assailant.
Ambassador Andrei Karlov, 62, was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored exhibition in Ankara when a man identified by Turkey’s interior minister as Mevlut Mert Altintas fired at least eight shots, according to the AP photographer in the audience.
“Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” the gunman shouted in Turkish, referring to the Syrian city where Russian bombardments have helped drive rebels from areas they had occupied for years during the war.
He also shouted “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great” and continued in Arabic: “We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad, for jihad.”
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Altintas, who was born in 1994, had been an officer with Ankara’s riot police squad for more than two years. Soylu did not give a motive for the attack.
The gunman approached Karlov as he lay on the ground and shot him at least one more time at close range, according to the AP photographer. The attacker also smashed several of the framed photos hung for the exhibition. There was panic as people ran for cover. Three other people were wounded in the attack, Turkey’s NTV television said.
After shooting the ambassador, the gunman climbed to the second floor of the same building and a 15-minute shootout with police ensued before he was killed, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported.