Istanbul: A Turkish policeman crying “Aleppo” and “revenge” shot dead Russia’s ambassador to Turkey at an art exhibition in Ankara today, in what Moscow said was a “terrorist act”.
Andrei Karlov died of his wounds after the shooting, which occurred on the eve of a key meeting between the Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers on the Syria conflict.
Mevlut Mert Aydintas was born in 1994 in Soke, a town in Turkey’s western Aydin province.
The Turkish policeman fatally shot Russia’s ambassador to Turkey in front of a shocked gathering at a photo exhibit and then, pacing near the body of his victim, appeared to condemn Russia’s military role in Syria.
Aydintas entered the hall using police identification, leading gallery attendees to believe he was one of the Russian ambassador’s personal bodyguards. He was later killed in a shootout with police.
Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu — an officer with Ankara’s riot police squad — said Aydintas had been an officer with the squad for more than two years. Mr Soylu said he understood there was no apparent motive for the attack.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was also familiar with Aydintas, identifying him as a member of the Ankara riot police.
Meanwhile Turkish authorities are reportedly investigating Aydintas’s links to the “Gulenist Terrorist Organisation” or “FETO”.
“The people he lived with before school were detained over [ties to] the FETO. It was determined that the people with whom he graduated from school were from a FETO team,” a senior Turkish security official, who declined to be identified said.
“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 leave from the riot squad in the period of July 15-17.
The Government may argue the timing of his holiday demonstrated foreknowledge of the July 15 military coup.