Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Istanbul: Gunmen attack Italian church, killing one person

Police and rescuers near the Church of Santa Maria in the Sariyer district of Istanbul

Police and rescuers near the Church of Santa Maria in the Sariyer district of Istanbul

Two masked assailants launched an armed attack on an Italian church in Istanbul during a service on Sunday, leaving one person dead, Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said.

According to a statement by Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, the assailants attacked the Santa Maria Church in the Sariyer district at 11:40 a.m. local time (08:40 GMT).

An investigation has been launched, and authorities are working to apprehend the attackers, Yerlikaya said. "We strongly condemn this vile attack," he said.

The mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, also condemned the attack.

Television images showed police and an ambulance outside the ornate church. It was not immediately clear what the motive for the attack was.

Pope voices support for community

The pope expressed his support for a church in Istanbul. "I express my closeness to the community of the Santa Maria Draperis Church in Istanbul," Pope Francis said at the end of his weekly Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.

Last December, Turkish security forces detained 32 suspects for alleged links to Islamic State militants who were planning attacks on churches and synagogues, as well as the Iraqi embassy.

IS extremists have carried out several attacks on Turkish soil, including a 2017 assault on an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people.

dh/sms (AP, AFP, dpa)