The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was shot in the back and killed Monday (12/19) by a sacked police officer who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo” and “Allahu Akbar” as he opened fire. The ambassador was giving a speech at an Ankara art gallery.
Reuters news agency reported: “A video showed the attacker shouting: “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” and “Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest) as screams rang out. He paced about and shouted as he held the gun in one hand and waved the other in the air.
“It was not clear whether the gunman was a lone operator, driven perhaps by popular discontent over Russian action in Syria or affiliated to a group like Islamic State, which has carried out a string of bomb attacks in Turkey in the last year. Whichever is the case, the incident raises concerns about a police force currently being purged after a failed July coup.”
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia must know for sure who was behind the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov.
“Russia’s Investigative Committee has already opened a criminal case on this assassination. It has been instructed to set up a working group that is to go to Ankara to take part in the probe into this crime together with the Turkish partners,” he said at a meeting in the Kremlin.
According to Putin, an agreement to this effect was reached during his telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “We must know whow steered the killer’s course,” Putin stressed.
The man who assassinated the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, is identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a former officer of the Turkish police who was fired from the forces of law and order in the course of investigation of the July 15 abortive coup, according to Haberturk news.
Altintas, 22, was allegedly involved in Fethullah Gülen movement which has been declared as a terrorist organization.
He was killed by security guards on the spot.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the assassination of the Russian ambassador was aimed at damaging relations between Turkey and Russia.
Similar views were expressed by Fatih Öke, the press attache of Turkey’s embassy in Washington DC, who tweeted: “The bullet to Ambassador Karlov is not only aims him. It aims also Turkish Russian relation.”
Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek told reporters that the “heinous” attack aimed to disrupt newly-re-established relations between Turkey and Russia.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was due to meet with his Russian and Iranian counterparts in Russia on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Syria. Officials said the meeting would still go on, despite the attack.
According to the Guardian, ambassador Andrei Karlov had been part of discussions with Turkey that led to an evacuation of east Aleppo late last week. He had also been a central conduit to the Turkish government’s rapprochement with Moscow in April this year.
Russia and Turkey have recently gone some way towards mending ties after a freeze in relations after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane in November 2015.
“The attack comes at a bad time: Moscow and Ankara have only recently restored diplomatic ties after Turkey downed a Russian aircraft in November 2015,” Reuters quoted the Stratfor think-tank as saying. “Though the attack will strain relations between the two countries, it is not likely to rupture them altogether.”
Tensions have escalated in recent weeks as Russian-backed Syrian forces have fought for control of the eastern part of Aleppo.
Turkey has been hit by multiple bomb attacks that have been claimed by Kurdish militants, and beat back an attempted coup in July, where rebel soldiers commandeered tanks, warplanes and helicopters in attempt to overthrow the parliament.
Since then, the government has launched a sweeping crackdown on the judiciary, police and civil service in attempt to root out the coup plotters.
Possible impacts of the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey on bilateral relations will be clear after a thorough investigation into the incident, Tass news agency quoted a senior Russian lawmaker as saying.
“Now, it is necessary to investigate thoroughly what has happened. It could be a planned terrorist attack plotted by extremists. However, it could be an attack staged by a lone maniac,” Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the international committee of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house, said on Monday at a meeting with Russian compatriots at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Vienna.
“After the probe, it will be possible to see how this tragedy might impact the Russian-Turkish relations,” he stressed, adding that Russia have not seen such a tragedy since the assassination of Alexander Griboyedov, a Russian playwright, poet, composer and ambassador to Iran, in 1829.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: email@example.com