World Press Photo of the Year 2017: An Assassination In Turkey, photographer: Burhan Ozbilici/Syria. Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old off-duty police officer, shouts after shooting Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov (on the floor) at an art gallery in Ankara, on Dec 19, 2016. The image is part of a series titled ‘An assassination In Turkey’ which also won the Spot News – Stories category, captured in the moments before and after Altintas shot Karlov.

World Press Photo of the Year 2017: An Assassination In Turkey, photographer: Burhan Ozbilici/Syria. Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old off-duty police officer, shouts after shooting Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov (on the floor) at an art gallery in Ankara, on Dec 19, 2016. The image is part of a series titled ‘An assassination In Turkey’ which also won the Spot News – Stories category, captured in the moments before and after Altintas shot Karlov.

Brandishing a gun, his face contorted with rage, the shocking image of a Turkish policeman just after he had assassinated the Russian envoy to Turkey won the prestigious 2017 World Press Photo Award on Feb 13.

Judges praised the courage and bravery of Burhan Ozbilici, 59, a photographer for the Associated Press (AP) news service, who stood his ground as 22-year-old policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas pumped nine bullets into ambassador Andrei Karlov at the opening of an art exhibition in Ankara.

Explaining how the shot came about after the awards ceremony, Ozbilici said, “It was extremely hot, like I had boiled water on my head, then very cold, very cold. Extremely dangerous,” Ozbilici said. “But at the same time I understood that this was big history, it was history, (a) very, very important incident.”

Burhan Ozbilici. Photo: worldpressphoto.org

Burhan Ozbilici. Photo: worldpressphoto.org

So the veteran AP photographer did what he has learned to do over some 30 years: “I immediately decided to do my job because I could be wounded, maybe die, but at least I have to represent good journalism,” he said.

The vivid photo went viral around the world, and has been viewed some 18 million times.

The judges from the World Press Photo Foundation in Amsterdam had to choose from more than 80,400 images submitted by 5,034 photographers from 125 countries.

The decision was made even harder by dissension among jury members, with president Stuart Franklin, a British photographer, saying: “I voted against. Sorry, Burhan.”

“It’s a photograph of a murder, the killer and the slain, both seen in the same picture, and morally as problematic to publish as a terrorist beheading,” he wrote in the British daily The Guardian.

He argued that “placing the photograph on this high pedestal is an invitation to those contemplating such staged spectaculars”.

“It was a very, very difficult decision, but in the end we felt that the picture of the year was an explosive image that really spoke to the hatred of our times,” said jury member Mary Calvert.

The main award, the World Press Photo of the Year, carries a cash prize of €10,000 (RM47,000) and a selection of camera equipment from Canon. All the prize-winning pictures will be presented in an exhibition visiting 45 countries over the course of this year. The first exhibition opens in De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, on April 14. For more information about the exhibition, go to worldpressphoto.org/exhibitions/2017-exhibition/amsterdam.

Here is a selection of photographs from the competition. For more information on the World Press Photo Foundation and to see all the winning images, go to worldpressphoto.org. – Agencies

Spot News category, second prize, photographer: Abd Doumany/Syria. Medics Assist A Wounded Girl: This photo taken on Sept 12, 2016, shows a Syrian girl reacting in pain as a wounded child lies next to her in a make-shift hospital following reported government air strikes on the rebel-held town of Douma, east of Syria’s capital Damascus. This is the second year in a row that Doumany’s work has been honoured by the World Press Photo foundation.

Spot News category, second prize, photographer: Abd Doumany/Syria. Medics Assist A Wounded Girl: This photo taken on Sept 12, 2016, shows a Syrian girl reacting in pain as a wounded child lies next to her in a make-shift hospital following reported government air strikes on the rebel-held town of Douma, east of Syria’s capital Damascus. This is the second year in a row that Doumany’s work has been honoured by the World Press Photo foundation.

Contemporary Issues, first prize, photographer: Jonathan Bachman/United States. Taking A Stand: Activist Leshia Evans standing her ground while offering her hands for arrest as she is charged by riot police during a protest against police brutality outside the Baton Rouge Police Department in Louisiana, United States, on July 9, 2016.

Contemporary Issues, first prize, photographer: Jonathan Bachman/United States. Taking A Stand: Activist Leshia Evans standing her ground while offering her hands for arrest as she is charged by riot police during a protest against police brutality outside the Baton Rouge Police Department in Louisiana, United States, on July 9, 2016.

Daily Life category, second prize, photographer: Tiejun Wang/China. Sweat Makes Champions: Four students of a gymnastics school in Xuzhou, China, do toe-pressure training for 30 minutes in the afternoon.

Daily Life category, second prize, photographer: Tiejun Wang/China. Sweat Makes Champions: Four students of a gymnastics school in Xuzhou, China, do toe-pressure training for 30 minutes in the afternoon.

General News category, third prize, photographer: Noel Celis/Philippines. Inside The Philippines’ Most Overcrowded Jail: Conditions are actually getting worse than this scene from Quezon City Jail shows, as police wage an unprecedented war on crime. There are 3,800 inmates in the jail, which was built six decades ago to house 800, and they engage in a relentless contest for space. Men take turns to sleep on the cracked cement floor of an open-air basketball court, the steps of staircases (pictured), underneath beds and in hammocks made out of old blankets.

General News category, third prize, photographer: Noel Celis/Philippines. Inside The Philippines’ Most Overcrowded Jail: Conditions are actually getting worse than this scene from Quezon City Jail shows, as police wage an unprecedented war on crime. There are 3,800 inmates in the jail, which was built six decades ago to house 800, and they engage in a relentless contest for space. Men take turns to sleep on the cracked cement floor of an open-air basketball court, the steps of staircases (pictured), underneath beds and in hammocks made out of old blankets.

People category, first prize, photographer: Magnus Wennman/Sweden. What ISIS Left Behind : Five-year-old Maha and her family fled from the village of Hawija outside Mosul, Iraq, in October 2016. The fear of the Islamic State (IS) and the lack of food forced them to leave their home, her mother says. Maha was captured laying listlessly on a dirty mattress in an overcrowded transit centre in Iraq’s Debaga’s refugee camp. ‘I do not dream and I’m not afraid of anything anymore,’ Maha said quietly while her mother stroked her hair. After two years under IS control, Iraqi and Kurdish troops launched an operation in October 2016 to retake Iraq’s second largest city and last IS stronghold in the country: Mosul. This was a task that would prove far more difficult than anyone imagined.

People category, first prize, photographer: Magnus Wennman/Sweden. What ISIS Left Behind : Five-year-old Maha and her family fled from the village of Hawija outside Mosul, Iraq, in October 2016. The fear of the Islamic State (IS) and the lack of food forced them to leave their home, her mother says. Maha was captured laying listlessly on a dirty mattress in an overcrowded transit centre in Iraq’s Debaga’s refugee camp. ‘I do not dream and I’m not afraid of anything anymore,’ Maha said quietly while her mother stroked her hair. After two years under IS control, Iraqi and Kurdish troops launched an operation in October 2016 to retake Iraq’s second largest city and last IS stronghold in the country: Mosul. This was a task that would prove far more difficult than anyone imagined.

Nature category, first prize, photographer: Francis perez/Spain. Caretta Caretta Trapped: This photo shows a Caretta caretta – aka loggerhead – sea turtle entangled in a fishing net swimming off the coast of Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, on June 8, 2016. Sea turtles are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Unattended fishing gear is responsible for many sea turtle deaths.

Nature category, first prize, photographer: Francis perez/Spain. Caretta Caretta Trapped: This photo shows a Caretta caretta – aka loggerhead – sea turtle entangled in a fishing net swimming off the coast of Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, on June 8, 2016. Sea turtles are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Unattended fishing gear is responsible for many sea turtle deaths.

Sports category, first prize, photographer: Tom Jenkins/Britain. Grand National Steeplechase: Jockey Nina Carberry flies off her horse, Sir Des Champs, as they fall at ‘The Chair’ fence during the Grand National steeplechase at Aintree Racecourse on April 9, 2016, in Liverpool, England. The Grand National steeplechase is one of Britain’s oldest horse races – it’s been run since 1839. It is a prominent part of British culture and is popular even among members of the public who do not usually watch horse racing or make bets. It is the most valuable jump race in Europe, with a prize fund of 1mil (RM5.5mil) in 2016.

Sports category, first prize, photographer: Tom Jenkins/Britain. Grand National Steeplechase: Jockey Nina Carberry flies off her horse, Sir Des Champs, as they fall at ‘The Chair’ fence during the Grand National steeplechase at Aintree Racecourse on April 9, 2016, in Liverpool, England. The Grand National steeplechase is one of Britain’s oldest horse races – it’s been run since 1839. It is a prominent part of British culture and is popular even among members of the public who do not usually watch horse racing or make bets. It is the most valuable jump race in Europe, with a prize fund of £1mil (RM5.5mil) in 2016.