Turkish police have detained six people over the killing of Russia’s ambassador, security sources said, widening an investigation to relatives of the off-duty policeman who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo!” as he gunned the envoy down.
Both countries cast Monday’s attack at an art gallery in the capital Ankara as an attempt to undermine a recent thawing of ties that have been strained by civil war in Syria, where they back opposing sides.
The war, which has killed more than 300,000 people and created a power vacuum exploited by Islamic State, reached a potential turning point last week when Syrian forces ended rebel resistance in the northern city of Aleppo.
Karlov’s remains were sent back to Moscow from Turkey after a ceremony at the airport in Ankara.
The white, red and blue Russian flag was draped on the casket as a Russian Orthodox priest recited prayers.
Turkey identified the killer as 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, who had worked for the Ankara riot police for 2-1/2 years. Altintas, who also shouted slogans associated with Islamist militancy after shooting ambassador Andrei 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, security sources said.
One senior Turkish security official said investigators were focusing on whether Altintas had links to the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for a failed July coup. Gulen has denied responsibility for the coup and Monday’s attack and has condemned both events.