"An incredibly hard-hitting news photograph" has taken top honors at the 2017 World Press Photo competition. Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici won Monday, with jurors and colleagues lauding his courage and composure in capturing his image of a gun-wielding off-duty Turkish policeman standing over the body of Russia's ambassador, whom he had just fatally shot. Part of a series titled "An Assassination in Turkey," Ozbilici's photos were captured in the moments before and after Mevlut Mert Altintas shot Ambassador Andrei Karlov at a photo exhibition in Ankara on Dec. 19. In the winning photo, the gunman, wearing a suit and tie, stands defiantly, pistol in his right hand pointed at the ground and with his left hand raised, his index finger pointing upward. The ambassador's body lies on the floor just behind Altintas.
Ozbilici says his professional instincts kicked in despite the shocking scene unfolding in front of him, reports the AP. "It was extremely hot, like I had boiled water on my head, then very cold, very cold. Extremely dangerous," Ozbilici says in an interview. "But at the same time I understood that this was big history, it was history, (a) very, very important incident." So the veteran AP photographer did what he has learned to do over some 30 years: "I immediately decided to do my job because I could be wounded, maybe die, but at least I have to represent good journalism," he says. The winning image announced Monday was among 80,408 photos submitted to the prestigious competition by 5,034 photographers from 125 countries. See some of the other winners in the gallery.