Friday 20 September 2019

Shots fired near US embassy in Turkey hours after killing of Russian ambassador

Warning: Graphic content in pictures
*Russian ambassador gunned down in gallery
*No immediate claim of responsibility
*Shooter was a police officer - minister

People in the gallery react after the shooting. Photo: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici
People in the gallery react after the shooting. Photo: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici
The Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov speaks a gallery in Ankara Monday Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
The Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov speaks a gallery in Ankara Monday Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
An unnamed gunman gestures after shooting the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
A man gestures near to the body of a man at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
The Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov speaks a gallery in Ankara Monday Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
An unnamed gunman holds the gun after shooting the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
A man gestures near to Andrei Karlov on ground, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
An unnamed gunman gestures after shooting the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
A man gestures near to Andrei Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, on the ground, at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
Turkish police secure the area near an art gallery where the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Police have detained a man who fired shots in front of the US embassy in Ankara, several hours after the Russian ambassador to Turkey was killed in an attack.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said the man took out a pump action shotgun he hid in his coat and fired around eight shots in the air early on Tuesday. He was overpowered by the embassy's security guards.

No-one was hurt in the incident which occurred hours after a Turkish policeman, appearing to condemn Russia's military role in Syria, fatally shot Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov in front of a shocked gathering at a photo exhibition in Ankara.

The embassy said its missions in Ankara, Istanbul and the southern city of Adana would be "closed for normal operations on Tuesday".

Photographs taken by an Associated Press photographer who kept his finger on the shutter while others dived for cover captured the aftermath of a murder which Russia described as a "terrorist act".

10 NEWS AFP_J989X (2).jpg
Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, lying on the floor after being shot by a gunman during an attack during a public event in Ankara. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The incident followed days of protests in Turkey against Russia's support for the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and came on the eve of talks today in Moscow about the future of Syria involving Russia, Iran and Turkey. The talks are still planned to go ahead.

At 7pm local time yesterday Mr Karlov, the guest of honour, took to the lectern to make a speech at the launch of an exhibition of photography about Russia, attended by around 100 guests.

He was five minutes into it when a smartly dressed Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old riot squad police officer, took up position behind him and opened fire, shooting him several times in the back.

He shouted "Allahu Akbar" - God is great - as he pulled the trigger.

Read more: Night of terror: 'We just missed the whole situation by five minutes' - Irish people share witness accounts of suspected terror attack at Berlin Christmas market

Mr Karlov (62) was knocked flat on his back by the bullets, his glasses flying off and skittering across the floor.

A television camera that was still running after its operator had fled, recorded Altintas switching between Arabic and Turkish as he ranted: "Don't forget about Syria, don't forget about Aleppo. All those who participate in this tyranny will be held accountable.

"In the name of God, you killed innocent people. We will not permit you to do these things. We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad, for jihad.

"We made an oath to die in martyrdom ... it is revenge for Syria and Aleppo. Until they are safe, you will not taste safety."

Witnesses said he shot Mr Karlov one or two times more as he lay dying on the floor.

It was unclear whether Altintas, who has been based in Ankara for two years, was inspired by Isil or the rebels who have been crushed in Aleppo after four years of war.

Reports in Turkey suggested that he recited a message in Arabic similar to a phrase associated with the rebel group al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qa'ida. He was shot dead by police in a shoot-out that lasted 15 minutes. Three other people were wounded. Mr Karlov was taken to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The Turkish foreign ministry insisted that it would not allow the murder to "cast a shadow" over Turkey's improving relations with Russia. Russia and Turkey, which back opposing sides in the Syrian civil war, entered a diplomatic crisis when the Turkish air force shot down a Russian jet in November 2015. But in recent months Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Turkey Recep Erdogan have held talks about a ceasefire in Syria.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News