Burhan Ozbilici captures Andrey Karlov's final moments

Photographer was attending the event when an off-duty policeman killed Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov.

    This photo shows the assailant in the left side of the image shortly before the attack [Burhan Ozbilici/AP]
    This photo shows the assailant in the left side of the image shortly before the attack [Burhan Ozbilici/AP]

    Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici was attending a photo exhibition when a gunman opened fire, assassinating Russia's ambassador to Turkey. He recounts the chaos that unfolded as he captured the scene.

    "Don't forget Aleppo. Don't forget Syria!" the gunman shouted in Turkish, referring to the Syrian city where Russian bombardments have helped to drive rebels from areas they had occupied for years during the war. He also shouted "Allahu akbar" but I couldn't understand the rest of what he said in Arabic.

    Authorities would later confirm that Ambassador Andrey Karlov, 62, was dead. The gunman, identified as police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas, was killed after a 15-minute shootout.

    The exhibition, titled "From Kaliningrad to Kamchatka, from the eyes of travellers" featured photos from Russia's westernmost Baltic region to the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the east. I decided to attend simply because it was on my way home from the office.

    The assailant was a 22-year-old off-duty police officer who worked in Ankara [Burhan Ozbilici/AP]

    When I arrived, the speeches had already begun. After the Russian ambassador began to make his address, I moved closer to photograph him, thinking the pictures would come in useful for stories on Turkish-Russian relations.

    READ MORE: Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov shot dead in Ankara

    He was speaking softly and - from what I could tell - lovingly about his homeland, stopping occasionally to allow the translator to relay his words in Turkish.

    Suddenly, gunshots rang out in quick succession, followed by panicked audience members running for cover.

    The ambassador's body lay on the blood-splattered ground.

    It took me a few seconds to realise what had happened: A man had died in front of me; a life had disappeared before my eyes.

    I was shocked and sad but I started to take photographs, sheltering behind a wall.

    Mevlut Mert Altintas shouted in Turkish 'Don't forget Aleppo! Don't forget Syria!' after killing Karlov [Burhan Ozbilic/AP]

    The gunman was agitated. He circled the body, smashing some of the photos hanging on the wall. He shouted at everyone to stand back and pointed his gun at us. Security guards ordered us to vacate the hall and we left.

    Ambulances and armoured vehicles soon arrived and the police operation was launched.

    When I returned to the office to edit my photos, I was shocked to see that the gunman was actually standing behind the ambassador as he spoke.

    SOURCE: AP news agency


    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Why America's Russia hysteria is dangerous

    Why America's Russia hysteria is dangerous

    The US exaggerating and obsessing about foreign threats seems quite similar to what is happening in Russia.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months