Man killed in Istanbul Catholic church (GRAPHIC VIDEO)
Two masked gunmen shot and killed a person during a mass service at a Catholic church in Istanbul on Sunday, Turkish officials have confirmed.
Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said Sunday’s attack at the Italian Santa Maria Catholic Church in the Sariyer district in the northeastern section of Istanbul’s European side, occurred just before noon local time.
Yerlikaya added that the person shot dead appeared to have been deliberately targeted by the killers, whose identities were concealed by masks. “A comprehensive investigation was launched on the matter and work has been started to capture the attackers,” Yerlikaya wrote on social media on Sunday.
Istanbul governor Davut Gul said that the victim was a Turkish national and that there were no other injuries related to the incident, according to Reuters.
ISTANBUL The moment when terrorists stormed a Catholic Church during Mass, shooting parishioners and killing at least one person pic.twitter.com/hCckX8Rj7m— Catholic Arena (@CatholicArena) January 28, 2024
Turkish president Tayyip Recep Erdogan expressed his sorrow at the incident in calls to the church’s priest, a local official from his ruling AK Party and Poland’s consul general in Istanbul, the news agency added.
Erdogan said that the assassins would be found “within 24 hours” and that the “necessary steps” were being taken to locate the suspects.
Pope Francis also offered condolences after his weekly Angelus prayer from the Vatican on Sunday. “I express my closeness to the community of Saint Mary Draperis Church in Istanbul that suffered an armed attack during mass that caused one death,” the Pontiff said, referring to the chapel by its English title.
CCTV obtained by Turkish media shows the attack in graphic detail. Two gunmen enter the church, apparently following a man dressed in black before he is shot and fatally injured, the footage shows. Afterwards, the two assailants calmly leave the church.
The uncle of the victim, whose identity has not yet been officially confirmed, said that the 52-year-old was intending to become a Christian but had not yet been baptized. Türkiye is a predominantly Muslim country – with just 0.2% of the population estimated to be Christian or from other recognized religions like Judaism.