Istanbul church attack: Gunmen kill one person during Sunday morning mass

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Two gunmen attacked a Catholic church in Istanbul, turning morning mass into a scene of terror and killing one man.

The shooting happened at the Church of Santa Maria during Sunday mass at around 11:40 local time (08:40 GMT).

Turkey’s interior minister condemned the “vile attack” and said an investigation has been launched. Police are still searching for the suspects.

The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear, but officials have said it looks like a targeted attack.

CCTV released by Turkish media shows the moment of the attack. Worshippers were on their feet, facing the altar when two gunmen came into the back of the church.

They appear to be following a man who has just come in, dressed in black. After he is shot and fatally wounded, the gunmen calmly leave.

The 19th-century church sits behind high walls, close to a small fish market, by the Bosphorus on the European side of Istanbul. The streets around it were closed off by police.

Inside the church, investigators took statements from those who were there when the attackers struck.

The Turkish Interior Minister, Ali Yerlikaya, who visited the scene said that an individual identified as CT had died in the attack.

The uncle of the dead man told local media the victim was 52 years old and about to become a Christian, but was not baptised yet. Another relative said he was mentally ill, and insisted that he was not the target of the attack.

In a post on X, the mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, said: “We will never allow those who try to disrupt our unity and peace by attacking the places of faith in our city.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed condolences over the attack and said that “necessary steps” were being taken to hunt down the killers, who he predicted would be found “within 24 hours”.

The Pope offered his support, expressing his “closeness to the community of the Santa Maria church” at the end of his weekly prayer at the Vatican.

Attacks like this on Turkey’s Christian minority are rare. The local mayor said Muslims and Christians lived in harmony in the area, and that there was a real sense of shock among the community.

A relative of one of the injured worshippers grieves in front of Santa Maria church, as Turkish anti riot police officers block the street after the attack
Image caption,

A relative of one of the worshippers grieves in front of the Santa Maria church

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