- Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, gunned down Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov
- Altintas was a member of Ankara’s riot squad according to local media
- City mayor Melih Gokcek claimed Altintas could be a Gulanist supporter
- Altintas’s parents, sister and roommate have all been rounded-up by police
The assassin who gunned down Russia’s ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov has been identified as a 22-year-old undercover police officer.
Mevlut Mert Altintas shot dead the ambassador at an event in Ankara before he was killed by special forces.
Altintas was filmed as he blasted the ambassador from behind with his semi-automatic handgun during the launch of a photographic expedition.
Turkish officials claim Altintas was off-duty at the time of the assassination. They confirmed they have since arrested his mother, sister and his roommate.
The assassin who gunned down Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov has been named as a Turkish police officer named Mevlut Mert Altintas, pictured, who was killed afterwards
Altintas, pictured left, stood behind Ambassador Karlov, centre, as he began his speech
The gunman claimed the assassination was because of Russia’s actions in Aleppo
Hours after the assassination, Turkish police arrested Altintas’s mother at her home
Before he was shot dead himself, Altintas shouted in Turkish: ‘Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!’
He then warned journalists filming the event: ‘Stand back! Stand back! Only death will take me out of here. Anyone who has a role in this oppression will die one by one.’
Amid the chaotic scenes, eyewitnesses reported that Altintas shouted ‘Allahu akbar’, the Arabic phrase for ‘God is great’.
Turkey’s interior minister says that the gunman who assassinated Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was a policeman.
Suleyman Soylu said that the gunman was working for the riot police squad in Ankara for the past two-and-a-half years.
He identified the attacker as Mevlut Mert Altintas, born in 1994.
Altintas’s father Esrafil, mother Hamidiye, and his sister, Seher Ozeroglu, who works in a clothes shop, were arrested in his hometown of Soke in Aydin, a province on western Turkey’s Aegean coast.
It is claimed he was active in his youth with President Erdogan’s AKP party and may have been linked with the Al Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al Qaeda.
One witness said Altintas was dressed smartly in a black suit and tie and stood behind the ambassador as he made his speech.
The witness added: ‘He took out his gun and shot the ambassador from behind. We saw him lying on the floor and then we ran out.’
Altintas was shot dead by Turkish security forces who responded to the assassination
Details of the killer were soon shared on social media showing him in his police uniform
Ankara’s mayor Melih Gokcek said the use of Islamic slogans could have been an attempt by the killer to deflect blame from those responsible for ordering the attack.
The Yeni Safak daily said on its website that the attacker worked with anti-riot police in Ankara.
Gokcek, known for his outspoken comments, speculated on his official Twitter account that the policeman may be linked to the group of Fethullah Gulen blamed for the July 15 coup aimed at toppling Erdogan.
It is understood Turkish authorities have already rounded-up Altintas’s mother, sister and his roommate.
Another Turkish website claimed to show sections of Altintas’s personnel file
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: ‘We qualify the events as a terrorist attack, we stay in contact with Turkish officials who have pledged that a through all-round investigation will be carried out. The assassinators will be punished. Today this issue will be brought up at the UN Security Council.
‘Terrorism shall not pass, we will take resolute efforts against it.’
Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to share information about the shooting of Moscow’s ambassador to Ankara, a Turkish official said.
Putin described today’s assassination as a ‘provocation’ aimed at destroying the improving relationship between Moscow and Ankara.
He said: ‘The crime that was committed is without doubt a provocation aimed at disrupting the normalisation of Russian-Turkish relations and disrupting the peace process in Syria that is being actively advanced by Russia, Turkey and Iran.
‘There can be only one answer to this – stepping up the fight against terrorism, and the bandits will feel this.’
The Russians have secured the agreement of Turkey’s government to send its own team of investigators to Ankara to probe the murder.
James Nixey, head of the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatham House think tank in London, said Moscow would use the attack to step up actions in what the Kremlin sees as a ‘war on terror’.
He said: ‘My sense it that the Russians won’t blame the Turks for this but will seek to capitalise on it for wider gains. Clearly the Russian military will be baying for blood, they’ll want revenge.’
Turkish security officials have claimed there are ‘very strong signs’ Altintas was a follower of the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.
However, his media representative Alp Aslandogan dismisssed any link and said the exiled cleric condemned the murder as a ‘heinous act’.
The Turkish official, who declined to be identified, said the current investigation was focused on the gunman’s links to the network of Gulen’s followers, which the government calls the ‘Gulenist Terrorist Organisation’ or ‘FETO’.
The government says Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999, created a ‘parallel network’ in the police, military, judiciary and civil service aimed at overthrowing the state. Gulen denies this.
President Tayyip Erdogan identified the attacker, who was later killed by security forces, as a member of the Ankara riot police who had spent 2-1/2 years on the force.
‘The people he lived with before school were detained over FETO. It was determined that the people with whom he graduated from school were from a FETO team,’ the senior security official said of the attacker.
‘Information was obtained to the effect that people who helped him get into school were from FETO. There are very strong signs that the person who carried out this attack was from FETO. The investigation is currently focused totally on this.’
The official also cited the fact that the attacker had taken July 15-17 as holiday. The government may argue the timing of his holiday demonstrated foreknowledge of the July 15 coup.
Gulen adviser Aslandogan, who advises Gulen on media issues, said the allegations by the Turkish official were ‘laughable’ and intended to cover up for lax security.
‘Mr. Gulen categorically condemns this heinous act.’