Body of assassinated Russian ambassador to Turkey flown to Moscow
Andrey Karlov 'the eternal symbol of Turkish-Russian friendship,' Turkish deputy PM says
The body of Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, was on a flight to Moscow from Turkey on Tuesday, a
day after he was shot dead by an off-duty police officer in Ankara.
The white, red and blue Russian flag was draped on the casket as a Russian Orthodox priest recited prayers in a ceremony at the Ankara airport. Top ministers from the Turkish government also spoke at the service.
Karlov was shot dead Monday evening as he delivered a speech at a photo exhibition in the Turkish capital. His attacker, Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old member of Ankara's riot police squad, shouted slogans about the battered Syrian city of Aleppo during the attack. He was later killed by police.
At the airport ceremony, Karlov's wife, Marina, held two red carnations and wept as her husband's flag-draped coffin was carried by a Turkish honour guard.
Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Tugrul Turkes said Karlov had "become the eternal symbol of Turkish-Russian friendship."
Security was tight at the airport, with special units securing the area.
Turkish police detain 6
Turkish police detained six people in connection with the shooting, state media said on Tuesday, widening a probe to relatives of Altintas, who shouted, "Don't forget Aleppo!" as he gunned down the envoy.
Both countries cast Monday's attack at an art gallery as an attempt to undermine a recent thawing of ties that have been strained by the situation in Syria. Both countries back opposing sides in the civil war.
More than 300,000 people have been killed in the war, which has created a power vacuum exploited by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It reached a potential turning point last week when Syrian forces ended rebel resistance in the northern city of Aleppo.
Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, supported that advance with airstrikes.
Turkey identified the killer of Karlov as 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, who had worked for the Ankara riot police for 2½ years.
Altintas, who also shouted slogans associated with Islamist militancy after shooting Karlov, was killed minutes later by members of Turkey's special forces.
His mother, father, sister and two other relatives were held in the western province of Aydin, while his flatmate in Ankara was also detained, the state-run Anadolu agency said.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu, while in Moscow, spoke on the phone with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
He told Kerry: "Turkey and Russia know that FETO is behind the attack and shared info about the attacker," using the acronym for Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization, a moniker the Turkish government gave to a group of followers of Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey believe Gulen, a U.S.-based Muslic cleric and critic of Erdogan, was behind the failed coup in July and again asked the U.S. to extradite him.
Gulen has denied responsibility for the coup and Monday's attack, and has publicly condemned both events.
The slogans that Altintas shouted were captured on video and circulated widely on social media, and suggested he was aligned to a radical Islamist ideology, rather than that of Gulen, who preaches a message of interfaith dialogue.
"Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria. You will not be able to feel safe for as long as our districts are not safe. Only death can take me from here," Altintas shouted in Turkish.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that he and Russia's President Vladimir Putin had agreed in a telephone call that their co-operation in fighting terrorism should be even stronger after the killing.
Putin said it was aimed at derailing Russia's attempts to find, with Iran and Turkey, a solution for the Syria crisis. The countries' foreign ministers were meeting on Tuesday.
Security concerns in Turkey
Turkey faces multiple security threats, including from ISIS.
Earlier this month, a spokesman for the hard-line Sunni Muslim group urged global sympathizers to carry out new attacks, singling out Turkish diplomatic, military and financial interests as preferred targets. Altintas also shouted: "We are the ones who swore allegiance to Mohammed for the jihad!" The mass circulation Hurriyet newspaper said that was a slogan commonly used in propaganda videos of the group formerly allied to al-Qaeda in Syria.
Karlov was attending an exhibition of photographs from Russia, and media at the event captured the killing in graphic details.
Altintas, dressed smartly in a suit, necktie and white shirt, is caught in one photograph standing behind Karlov. In a video, Karlov is shown crumpling as he appears to be shot from behind.
As special forces stormed the building, Altintas initially waited by the ambassador's body and would not allow him to be treated, Hurriyet reported.
In a video message to the nation on Monday evening, Erdogan said Altintas had graduated from a police school before joining the riot police.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the street where the Russian Embassy is located would be named after the ambassador.
The gallery where the shooting occurred is opposite the U.S. Embassy. A gun was fired in front of the embassy overnight and the United States said its three missions in Turkey would be closed on Tuesday.
On Tuesday morning, a crime scene investigation van was parked outside the gallery and police paced up and down behind a security cordon.
With files from Reuters