Ankara — A Turkish police officer,who used “Jihadi” rhetoric to denounce the bloodshed in Syria, gunned down the Russian ambassador to Turkey in Ankara on Monday during an official ceremony at an art gallery.
As the ambassador, Andrei Karlov, lay on the floor, the assailant, still waving his gun, screamed, “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!”
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the shooting and Moscow said it was “a tragic day in the history of our country and Russian diplomacy”.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “We qualify what happened as a terrorist act. The murderers will be punished.”
“Today this issue will be raised at the U.N. Security Council. Terrorism will not win out”, she added.
Putin said the attack was a “provocation aimed at rupturing ties between Russia and Turkey.”
“The only answer to the murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey must be the intensification of the struggle against terrorism,” Putin said in nationally televised remarks. “And the bandits will feel it.”
Putin ordered his major crime investigative unit to work with Turkish authorities, who identified the gunman as 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, an officer with the riot police.
Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek said the “heinous” attack aimed to disrupt newly-re-established relations between Turkey and Russia.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said four people have been detained following the assassination of the Russian ambassador.
Turkish authorities say the shooter has been serving in Ankara’s riot police unit for the last two-and-a-half years.
While Altintas was killed in a shootout with police, Russian authorities vowed to reveal a larger plot — and some in Moscow suggested that the West was to blame for its support of moderate rebel factions in Syria.
Putin stopped short of that, saying only, “We need to know who guided the hand of the murderer.”