US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen behind killing of Russian ambassador: Turkish govt

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has blamed the group of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen for the assassination of Russian envoy Andrey Karlov in Ankara.
File pic of US Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen -...
India TV News Desk Ankara (Turkey) December 21, 2016 7:32 IST

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has blamed the group of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen for the assassination of Russian envoy Andrey Karlov in Ankara.

According to media reports, Cavusoglu told Secretary of State John Kerry that the Turkish and Russian governments believe that the Ankara police officer who assassinated Karlov is a follower of US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen.

"Turkey and Russia know that behind the attack... there is FETO," Cavusoglu said.

FETO is an acronym used in Turkey to describe the network of Gulen supporters in the country.

Gulen -- an exile accused of orchestrating an abortive coup in Turkey in July, however, denied allegations and termed the assassination as a terrorist act that left him shocked and deeply saddened.

Ambassador Karlov was gunned down on Monday evening as he was delivering a speech at an Ankara art gallery. The assassin was killed in a shoot-out with security forces. The attacker was identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas (22), an officer with the Turkish riot police.

The gunman had used his police ID to gain access to the event. As the Russian ambassador was delivering his speech, Altintas shot him several times. He shouted that the attack was retaliation for Russian involvement in the Syrian government's operation in Aleppo.

Another Turkish government official claimed that Altintas have links to the network of Gulen and that there were very strong signs of such a connection.

“Assailant is a policeman. According to what I have heard, he is a FETO member. The slogans of the assailant are just perception management,” Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek said.

Ankara has blamed Gulen for being behind several actions against the Turkish government, including a failed military coup earlier this year. 

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