One man died after armed assailants opened fire in an Italian church in Istanbul during Sunday mass in an apparent assassination attempt that was swiftly condemned by Pope Francis and Turkish officials.
The attack occurred at around 11:40am at the Santa Maria church in the Sariyer district of Istanbul on the European side of Turkiye’s largest city and was carried out by two masked men, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on social media.
Turkish officials said it looked like a targeted attack against one person rather than against the Catholic church.
The minister said an individual identified only as CT — who was among those attending Sunday’s service — was the target of the gun attack and lost his life.
Yerlikaya added that an investigation had been launched to find the attackers, who fled the scene after the shooting.
Turkish counter-terrorism police detained one man in connection with the attack, the private DHA news agency reported, without providing further details.
Local officials said around 40 people attended the mass, and suggested that there could have been more casualties.
“After the second shot, the gun didn’t work, then they (attackers) ran. At this moment, everyone laid on the floor. There were around 35 to 40 people inside,” Sariyer district’s mayor Sukru Genc told reporters.
Istanbul governor Davut Gul said that there were no other injuries.
Television images showed police and an ambulance outside the ornate 19th century church.
“We strongly condemn this vile attack,” Yerlikaya said.
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