Judges praised the courage of Burhan Ozbilici, a photographer for Associated Press, who stood his ground as 22-year-old policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas pumped nine bullets into ambassador Andrei Karlov at the opening of an Ankara art exhibition.
“From the moment I heard the shots I knew this was an historic moment,” Ozbilici said.
“I knew I had to do my job. As a journalist, I couldn’t just run away to save my skin.”
The photo has been viewed about 18 million times around the world.
The judges, from the World Press Photo Foundation, in Amsterdam, acknowledged that they had had a tough job in choosing the 2017 winner from more than 80400 images by 5034 photographers from 125 countries.
“It was a very, very difficult decision, but in the end we felt the picture of the year was an explosive image that spoke about the hatred of our times,” said jury member Mary Calvert.
Agence France-Presse also scooped three awards.
Manila photographer Noel Celis took third place in the general news category for his photo of inmates trying to sleep in an over-populated prison in the city.
Syrian snappers Abd Doumany and Ameer Alhalbi won second prize in the spot-news category for their pictures of children caught up in the bombardments of Aleppo and Douma. It is the second year in a row that Doumany’s work has been honoured by the World Press Photo Foundation.
“It’s not easy for these photographers, for these Syrians. It’s taking terrible risks. They are young guys telling their stories from hell,” said jury president Stuart Franklin.
FACE OF HATRED: Overall winner, World Press Photo of the Year. Policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas after shooting Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey Image: REUTERS Burhan Ozbilici, The Associated, Panos Pictures/Courtesy of World Press Photo Foundation/Handout via REUTERS
WAR: A Syrian girl cries out as a wounded child lies next to her at a makeshift hospital on 12 September 2016. She had been injured in reported government airstrikes on the rebel-held town of Douma, east of Damascus, Syria. Image: REUTERS Abd Doumany, Agence France-Presse/Courtesy of World Press Photo Foundation/Handout via REUTERS
FLOUR POWER: Second prize, people stories. On December 28 each year the ‘Flour War’ takes place in Ibi, Spain Image: REUTERS HANDOUT
CAGED: Winner, general news stories. Prisoners watch as drug-dealing suspects are processed in a police station in Manila, Philippines. Image: REUTERS The New York Times/Courtesy of World Press Photo Foundation/Handout via REUTERS
COMING A CROPPER: Winner, sports singles. Nina Carberry flies off her horse, Sir Des Champs, during the Grand National steeplechase Image: REUTERS Tom Jenkins, The Guardian/Courtesy of World Press Photo Foundation/Handout via REUTERS
GAME OVER: Winner, nature stories. Two rhino poachers caught by an anti-poaching team in Mozambique, close to the Kruger National Park border. The photographer is a South African. Image: REUTERS Brent Stirton, Getty Images for National Geographic Magazine/Courtesy of World Press Photo Foundation/Handout via REUTERS
COPY THAT: Second prize, nature. Rangers in China listen for radio signals from a collared panda. Image: REUTERS Ami Vitale, for National Geographic Magazine/Courtesy of World Press Photo Foundation/Handout via REUTERS
HERE COMES THE BRIDE: Third prize, long-term projects. A wedding reception in Kansas. Image: REUTERS Markus Jokela, Helsingin Sanomat/Courtesy of World Press Photo Foundation/Handout via REUTERS
SHOCK: Winner, long-term projects. The Ukrainian village of Luhanskaya after an air attack. Image: REUTERS Valery Melnikov, Rossiya Segodnya/Courtesy of World Press Photo Foundation/Handout via REUTERS