'I Composed Myself Enough to Shoot Pictures'

AP photographer recounts assassination of Russia's ambassador to Turkey
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2016 4:16 PM CST
'I Composed Myself Enough to Shoot Pictures'
A man identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas stands over Andrei Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, after shooting him at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016.   (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

"I composed myself enough to shoot pictures." So recounts AP photographer Burhan Ozbilici, who was covering a seemingly routine opening of a photo exhibit in Ankara, Turkey, Monday when a man pulled a gun. Ozbilici initially thought it a "theatrical flourish." Quite the contrary: Ozbilici counts 8 gunshots total, some of which killed Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, 62. The AP reports the gunman has been identified as a police officer named Mevlut Mert Altintas; he was killed in an ensuing shootout. Reuters cites a tweet from the Ankara mayor stating the gunman was 22 and off-duty. A witness says he was behind Karlov as the ambassador gave a speech and shot him from behind.

One take on the implications, from the Stratfor think-tank via Reuters: "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. Though the attack will strain relations between the two countries, it is not likely to rupture them altogether." In a piece at Slate titled in part "The Russian Ambassador to Turkey Isn't Franz Ferdinand," Joshua Keating agrees, suggesting the attack will serve as "a pretext for closer cooperation rather than conflict." Indeed, in televised comments reports by the Guardian, Vladimir Putin swung not at Turkey, instead calling "the crime ... a provocation aimed at disrupting the normalization of Russian-Turkish relations and disrupting the peace process in Syria. There can be only one answer to this—stepping up the fight against terrorism, and the bandits will feel this." (Read more assassination stories.)

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