The photographer who took the shocking pictures of the Russian ambassador assassination tells his story


When photographer Burhan Ozbilici attended a photo exhibition on Monday evening in Ankara, Turkey, he thought that he might get a few decent images of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov, who was speaking there, which would come in handy to illustrate future stories on the two countries.

Little did he realise he'd soon be witness to an assassination - and that he'd be taking photos that would shock the world.

Recalling his experience to employer the Associated Press, he said: "It took me a few seconds to realise what had happened: A man had died in front of me; a life had disappeared before my eyes."

The gunman gestures after shooting the Russian Ambassador to Turkey
(Burhan Ozbilici/AP)

He explained how he was well aware of the danger of the situation he found himself in when a man - now identified as police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas - opened fire at Karlov and then began shouting in Arabic and gesturing with his gun.

But he decided to move forward a bit and do what he was there to do - take photos. He said: "This is what I was thinking: 'I'm here. Even if I get hit and injured, or killed, I'm a journalist. I have to do my work. I could run away without making any photos?' ... I wouldn't have a proper answer if people later ask me: 'Why didn't you take pictures?'."

He even managed to capture the terrified and tense mood of the room by taking pictures of people taking cover and running out the building.

People react after the shooting of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey
(Burhan Ozbilici/AP)

People are evacuated after a gunman shot the Russian Ambassador to Turkey
(Burhan Ozbilici/AP)

The photos have had a profound effect on people, not least because it's rare to be able to capture a moment as dramatic as this so close up.

The photographer's bravery has been massively commended, too.