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


Turkish forensic police officers hold boxes as they walk in front of Santa Maria church after a attack, in Istanbul, on January 28, 2024.
Image caption,Turkish police and forensic officers in front of Santa Maria church in Istanbul

By Lipika Pelham

BBC News

One person has been killed in an attack by masked gunmen on a Catholic church in Istanbul. Local media also reported several injuries.

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

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

The motive for the attack was not immediately clear.

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

Worshippers were attending the mass when two gunmen, reportedly wearing ski masks, entered the 19th Century church and opened fire.

The Turkish interior minister, Ali Yerlikaya, said that an individual identified as CT – who was among those attending Sunday’s service – had died in the attack.

He said that the authorities were working to capture the assailants, who fled the scene after the shooting.

Local media report that several other worshippers were injured before the attackers got away.

The mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, condemned the attack. In a post on X he 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 also expressed condolences over the attack and said that “necessary steps” were being taken to hunt down the killers.

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