Russian investigators will probe assassination of ambassador in a move agreed by Putin, Erdogan
Turkish authorities were on Tuesday holding six people over the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Ankara by an off-duty policeman, as Russia urgently sought answers over the murder.
With the Turkish capital already on high alert after a string of attacks this year, an individual also fired outside the US embassy in Ankara overnight in a separate incident.
President Vladimir Putin declared “we have to know who directed the hand of the killer” and the Kremlin said a Russian investigative team were flying to Turkey to probe the murder in a move agreed by Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The corpse of Ambassador Andrei Karlov was in an Ankara morgue and would be flown back to Moscow, Turkish media reports said.
Putin called the killing a “provocation” aimed at sabotaging warming relations between Moscow and Ankara and efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria.
“There can be only one answer to this — stepping up the fight against terrorism, and the bandits will feel this,” the president said.
An unprecedented threeway meeting between the foreign ministers of Turkey, Russia and Iran in Moscow over the Syria crisis was meanwhile set to go ahead despite the killing.
Karlov was shot four times in the back by Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, as he opened an exhibition of Russian photography in Ankara.
Dramatic images showed Karlov stumble and then crash to the ground on his back as the attacker brandished his gun at terrified onlookers who cowered behind cocktail tables.
The gunman shouted “Allahu akbar (God is greatest)” and then said all those responsible for what has happened in Syria and Aleppo would be held accountable.
‘Carrying police ID’
Altintas had set off the metal detector security check when he entered the exhibition in central Ankara as he was carrying a gun, the progovernment Sabah daily said.
But after showing his police ID, he was waved through and allowed to proceed.
The Hurriyet daily added that Altintas, who had worked for Ankara’s anti-riot police for the last two and a half years, had stayed at a nearby hotel to prepare for the attack.
It said Altintas, who was off duty at the time, had put on a suit and tie and shaved at the hotel before heading to the exhibition center.
He was later killed by police after a shootout that lasted for about 15 minutes.
Altintas was born in the town of Soke in Aydin province in western Turkey and attended a special school for training future policemen.
Six people have been detained over the attack, including the sister, mother, father and uncle of Altintas, Turkish media reported.
The mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, speculated on his official Twitter account that the attacker may be linked to the group of Fethullah Gulen, blamed for the July 15 coup aimed at toppling Erdogan.
The mainstream Hurriyet said that authorities were investigating the assassin’s possible links to Gulen.
Gulen, who denies having any link to the failed coup bid, issued a statement condemning “in the strongest terms this heinous act of terror”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu lay flowers in memory of murdered Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov in Moscow on Tuesday.