Andrei Karlov stumbled as the bullets hit him in the back, then came crashing to the ground.
The press had come to cover the opening of a show at an Ankara exhibition hall Monday, but their cameras ended up capturing the chilling scene of the Russian envoy’s murder at the hands of a Turkish policeman.
The Russian ambassador to Ankara was shot dead in a brazen attack by a Turkish policeman in a cultural centre on Monday in what both sides branded an “act of terror.” The assassination, by a sharp-suited gunman shouting “Don’t forget Aleppo”, came after days of protests in Turkey over Russia’s role in Syria and on the eve of a unprecedented meeting of the foreign ministers of Turkey, Russia and Iran on the conflict.
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Images from shortly before the shooting showed a clean-shaven officer standing discreetly behind Karlov in a white shirt, dark suit and tie -- apparently a bodyguard for the ambassador as he gave a speech at the exhibition
The Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, speaks at an art gallery in Ankara. The assailant is seen standing behind the ambassador as he is speaking and then swaggering around the exhibition waving his gun and pointing aggressively into the air.
The man shouts “Allahu Akbar” (”God is greatest”) and then talks in Arabic about pledging allegiance to jihad in Arabic, the footage shows. He then switches to Turkish, shouting: “Don’t forget about Syria, don’t forget about Aleppo. All those who participate in this tyranny will be held accountable.”
The state-run Anadolu news agency said the gunman had been “neutralised” in a police operation inside the hall after 15 minutes of clashes when he refused to surrender
The state-run Anadolu news agency said the gunman had been “neutralised” in a police operation inside the centre after a 15 minute shootout.
Photos showed the ambassador lying on the ground, riddled with bullet wounds, quickly began to circulate on social media.
The gunman was identified by the Turkish interior minister as 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, who had worked in the Ankara anti-riot police for the last two-and-a-half years. It was not known if he was on duty in the exhibition hall at the time and if not, how he managed to gain access carrying a weapon.
Ankara mayor Melih Gokcek speculated on his official Twitter account that the policeman may be linked to the group of exiled preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for the July coup aimed at toppling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Russian ambassador was taken to Ankara Hospital where he was pronounced dead despite efforts to revive him.
The gunman shouted after shooting the Russian ambassador to Turkey. It is not yet clear whether the assassin was acting alone and no group has claimed responsibility.
Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov lies on the ground after he was shot. The slain ambassador, Andrei Karlov, was a veteran career diplomat who helped weather rocky ties between Moscow and Ankara.
The attacker was identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, who had worked in the Ankara anti-riot police for the last two-and-a-half years.
Reports said that his mother, father and sister were immediately detained for questioning in their home in western Turkey
Karlov, 62, was appointed to Ankara in 2013 at a time when the two countries were pushing to boost trade ties despite deep differences over the conflict in Syria. Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described his killing as a “tragic day in the history of our country and our diplomatic service”.
Before serving in Ankara, the bespectacled Karlov spent a large chunk of his career -- which stretched back to the Soviet period -- working on the volatile Korean peninsula.
The married father-of-one -- who spoke Korean and English -- served in the Russian embassies in both North and South Korea, before later returning to Pyongyang as Moscow’s ambassador to the isolated Stalinist state from 2001-2006.
Spectators are evacuated after the attack, which came on the eve of a crucial meeting between the Turkish, Russian and Iranian foreign ministers on the Syrian conflict. Moscow and Ankara remain on opposite sides of the conflict -- with Ankara backing rebels trying to topple Moscow’s ally President Bashar al-Assad.
People react after the ambassador was shot.
Turkish police swung into action.
Turkish police officers cordoned off the area soon after the attack.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd L), Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L), Director of Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov (2nd R), and Director of Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergei Naryshkin attend a meeting dedicated to the murder of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia December 19, 2016.
First Published: Dec 20, 2016 04:19 IST