Armed attack on Italian church in İstanbul, one dead

Masked assailants carried out an attack on an Italian church in İstanbul during a service on Sunday, killing one person, Turkey’s interior minister said, Turkish Minute reported, citing Agence France-Presse.

The attack occurred at around 11:40 a.m. (0840 GMT) at the Santa Maria Catholic church in İstanbul’s Sarıyer district and was carried out by two masked men, Ali Yerlikaya said on social media.

An investigation had been launched to find the attackers, he added, who fled the scene after the shooting.

Television footage showed police and an ambulance outside the church.

The minister said a person identified only by the initials C.T. — who had attended Sunday’s Mass — was killed in the attack.

“We strongly condemn this heinous attack,” Yerlikaya said.

The spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Ömer Çelik, said the attackers had targeted a citizen during the service.

“Our security forces are conducting a full investigation into the matter,” he said.

“Those who threaten the peace and security of our citizens will never achieve their goals.”

Local media reported that more people were injured in the attack, but this was not immediately confirmed by the authorities.

The motive for the attack was also not yet clear.

In December Turkish security forces arrested 32 suspects for alleged links to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who were planning attacks on churches and synagogues as well as the Iraqi Embassy.

ISIL has carried out many attacks on Turkish soil, including on a nightclub in İstanbul in 2017 in which 39 people died.

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