Turkey: Armed attack on Italian church in Istanbul leaves one dead

Turkey: The attack occurred at around 11:40 local time (0840 GMT) during the religious ceremony, with two masked assailants carrying out the assault before fleeing the scene.

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Turkey: In a tragic incident, two assailants launched an armed attack on the Santa Maria church in the Sariyer district of Istanbul during a religious ceremony on Sunday, leaving one person dead, as reported by Turkey's interior minister, Ali Yerlikaya.

The attack occurred at around 11:40 local time (0840 GMT) during the religious ceremony, with two masked assailants carrying out the assault before fleeing the scene. An investigation has been initiated to apprehend the attackers.

Television footage showed the presence of police and an ambulance outside the ornate Santa Maria church.

The victim, identified only as C.T., was among those attending Sunday's service and tragically lost their life due to the armed attack, according to Minister Yerlikaya.

Omer Celik, spokesperson for Turkey's ruling AKP party, condemned the attack, stating that the assailants targeted a citizen during the religious mass. He said, "Those who threaten the peace and security of our citizens will never achieve their goals."

Celik affirmed, "Our security forces are conducting a large-scale investigation into the matter. Those who threaten the peace and security of our citizens will never achieve their goals."

While local media reported additional injuries resulting from the attack while official confirmation from authorities is awaited. 

Turkey's President express condolences

Moreover, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his condolences during a phone call with the priest of the Italian church. Notably, he was in the  Eskisehir's central Anatolian province for his party’s rally ahead of local elections in the province.

Previous attacks of Islamic State extremists in Turkey

This incident follows the detention of 32 suspects in December 2023 by Turkish security forces over alleged links with Islamic State jihadists planning attacks on churches, synagogues, and the Iraqi embassy. The motive for the recent attack on the Santa Maria church is yet to be determined.

Turkey has witnessed previous instances of attacks by extremist groups, including a deadly assault on a nightclub in Istanbul in 2017 by Islamic State extremists, which claimed the lives of 39 individuals.