The man who shot and killed Russia’s ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was a 22-year-old undercover police officer who was off duty at the time.
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Officials confirmed that Mevlut Mert Altintas was the man seen on TV screens executing Karlov with a semi-automatic weapon at the launch of a photographic exhibition.
He went on to to shout “don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria,” and “we are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Mohammad, for jihad” before he was killed by special forces.
Altintas was born in Soke in Western Turkey in 1994 and has spent the past two-and-a-half years working for the riot police squad in the Turkish capital Ankara.
Those who knew him say he played an active role with President Erdogan’s AKP party but may have also been linked to Al Qaeda affiliate, the Al Nusra Front.
Ankara mayor Melih Gokcek claimed on Twitter that Altintas may also be linked to the Fethullah Gulen group – who are blamed for the July 15 coup aimed at toppling President Erdogan.
Fethullah Gulen is a US-based Muslim cleric who is accused of creating a secret network of followers in the Turkish police, military and judiciary with the ultimate aim of overthrowing the state.
Gulen has denied any such network exists but the Turkish government are convinced that Altintas has links to what is known as the ‘Gulenist Terrorist Organisation’ or ‘FETO’.
A senior government official is quoted by the Daily Mail as saying: “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.
“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.”
Altintas’s father Esrafil, mother Hamidiye, and his sister, Seher Ozeroglu, who works in a clothes shop, have since been arrested.
The killing of Karlov has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Russia, with Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova describing it as a “terrorist attack”.
He added: “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.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin added: “There can be only one answer to this – stepping up the fight against terrorism, and the bandits will feel this.”
Top pic: PA