Europe

Mevlut Mert Altintas: Turkish policeman who shot Russia's envoy

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Media captionVideo shows the gunman moments after ambassador Karlov was shot

Mevlut Mert Atlintas shouted phrases in broken Arabic in the seconds after he shot dead Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov.

He quoted an Islamic teaching referring to jihad: "We are the ones who pledged loyalty to [the Prophet] Muhammad to fight jihad as long as we live."

He also shouted "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great".

Switching to native-sounding Turkish, he then said: "Don't forget about Syria, don't forget about Aleppo. All those who participate in this tyranny will be held accountable."

Ankara riot policeman

He was identified by Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu as a 22-year-old policeman.

He said Altintas was born on 24 June 1994 in in the town of Soke in quiet, conservative Aydin province in western Turkey, and attended police college in the coastal city of Izmir to the north.

He had been working in Ankara's riot police department for two-and-a-half years but was apparently on leave at the time of his attack.

What investigators have to decide is whether he was motivated by the destruction of eastern Aleppo, or was part of a wider plot to derail relations with Russia.

Unconfirmed reports said he had been suspended for several weeks until mid-November because of suspected links to the plotters behind Turkey's failed July coup. Pro-government media produced a document showing he had also taken three days' leave immediately after the coup.

Image caption Altintas had been working for the riot police in the capital for more than two years

Altintas shaved and put on a suit and tie in a nearby hotel he was staying at prior to Monday's attack.

He set off a metal detector on entering the exhibition, but was waved through after showing his official police ID.

He is pictured standing behind the ambassador just before launching the attack at about 19:05 local time (16:05 GMT). He fired 11 times, nine times at the ambassador and twice in the air.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Altintas can be seen behind the ambassador moments before he shot him in the back

After he shot the ambassador and terrified onlookers, he refused to surrender and exchanged fire with police for about 15 minutes before they shot him dead.

Family members including his father, mother and sister were then immediately detained for questioning at their homes in Soke.

Outspoken Ankara mayor Melih Gokcek said on his Twitter account that Atlintas may have had links to the movement of US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.

However, the Gulenists have condemned the attack on the Russian ambassador and rejected any links to the attacker.

And although reports of potential links have begun to emerge, none has been proven.

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