Killer of Russian envoy, member of the personal bodyguards of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet has identified the off-duty police officer, who recently gunned down Russia’s ambassador to Ankara, as a member of the team providing security for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told PressTV.

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ANKARA, Turkey – Named as 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, the officer shot and killed Andrey Karlov, the Russian envoy, as the latter was inaugurating a photo exhibition in the Turkish capital, Ankara, with nine bullets on Monday, according to PressTV.

The attacker was subsequently gunned down by the police.

The paper said he had served in the taskforce ensuring that no harm would come to the head of state in public events. The group would play second fiddle to Erdogan’s personal bodyguards.

He had provided security for the Turkish president eight times since July 15, when the country witnessed a failed coup, according to the report.

Over all, he had served two-and-a-half years in anti-riot police.

On Tuesday, the state-run Anadolu agency said the attacker’s mother, father, sister and two other relatives were arrested in the western province of Aydin, while his flatmate in Ankara had also been detained. Turkish media reported seven more arrests in the case later.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has told US counterpart John Kerry in a phone call that Turkey believed US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen was behind the assassination plot.

Ankara also blames Gulen, Erdogan’s friend-turned-archenemy, to be behind the coup. The clergyman denies the allegations.

Also on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said on Tuesday that Russian investigators had flown to Turkey earlier in the day to help probe the killing as per a mutual decision taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan.

He said it was too early to conclude who was behind the murder.

“In this case it is hardly worth hurrying to any conclusions until the investigation determines — as our president said — who was behind the murder of our ambassador,” Peskov told reporters.

Takfiri hand?

Meanwhile, the Jordan-based al-Bawaba news and media website reported that the Takfiri Fath al-Sham militant group operating in Syria has claimed the attack.

Turkey and Russia have condemned the assassination as an attempt to damage Ankara-Moscow ties. The killing came as the countries are maintaining cooperation over the Syrian crisis.

The two recently clinched a deal enabling evacuations out of Syria’s second city of Alepp. Turkey had joined the talks on behalf of the militants, while Russia was negotiating on behalf of the Syrian government, whom it has been supporting in the face of the foreign-backed militancy.

Iran, the US, NATO and other countries and world institutions have also condemned the assassination of the Russian ambassador.