Wife of assassinated Russian ambassador had ‘nervous breakdown’ after he was shot dead in front of her
The heartbroken widow of a Russian ambassador who was shot dead by an assassin collapsed on his flag-draped coffin and cried out as it was carried to a plane.
Andrei Karlov ‘s body was flown back to Russia a day after he was killed – allegedly in retaliation for the crisis in Syria – while giving a speech at an art gallery in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
His wife Marina was one of dozens who witnessed the horrific attack and it was alleged she suffered a “nervous breakdown” in the aftermath of the shooting which left three others wounded.
Mr Karlov was targeted by 22-year-old Ankara police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas, who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo!” and slogans associated with Islamist militancy after shooting the ambassador from behind.
The off-duty police officer was killed minutes later by members of Turkey’s special forces.
Mrs Karlov clutched red flowers in her hand as she collapsed on her husband’s coffin – covered with a Russian flag – at the airport in Ankara.
She gave a statement to Turkish secret services following the attack, describing the moment she watched her husband die.
She told them: “I was lying on the floor along with the others. There were many people at the exhibition. All of us were shocked with what had happened.
“I recovered only when we were already on the way to the hospital .
“I think my husband was already dead by then. He shot at him 11 times.”
She added: “I was shocked. I immediately felt unwell.”
Mrs Karlov said the couple did not have security guards and occasionally travelled in Turkey with an interpretor.
She said no one made threats against her husband, and many people were aware that he would be speaking at the opening of a photography exhibition at the art gallery.
Turkish police have detained six people over the killing of the ambassador, which was captured on camera.
The gunman’s parents, sister and two other relatives were detained in the western province of Aydin, while his flatmate was detained in Ankara.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told US Secretary of State John Kerry that Ankara and Moscow believe followers of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen were behind the assassination, Reuters reported.
Ankara has also accused Gulen – who lives in self-imposed exile in the US – of orchestrating a failed coup in July.
Gulen has denied responsibility for the coup and Monday’s attack and has condemned both events.
The slogans that Altintas shouted suggested he was aligned to a radical Islamist ideology, rather than that of Gulen, who preaches a message of interfaith dialogue.
The gunman shouted in Turkish: “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, who was smartly dressed in a black suit, tie and white shirt, also shouted “We are the ones who swore allegiance to Mohammed for the jihad!”, which the mass circulation Hurriyet newspaper said was a slogan commonly used in propaganda videos of the group formerly allied to al Qaeda in Syria.
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