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Two masked assailants attack Roman Catholic church in Istanbul

A Turkish Police forensic officer works near to Santa Maria church in Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday
A Turkish Police forensic officer works near to Santa Maria church in Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday Copyright Emrah Gurel/The AP
Copyright Emrah Gurel/The AP
By Euronews with AP
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The pair entered the Santa Maria Church in the Sariyer district while Sunday services were being held.

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Two masked assailants attacked a Roman Catholic church in Istanbul during Sunday services, killing one person, Turkish officials have announced.

According to a statement posted on X - formerly Twitter - by Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, the armed assailants attacked the Santa Maria Church in the Sariyer district at 1140 am local time. He did not specify what kind of weapons were used or whether anyone else was wounded.

Yerlikaya also condemned the attack and said authorities are working on capturing the assailants and confirmed that an investigation has been opened.

Speaking to reporters, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu offered his condolences and support for religious minorities in the city, which like Turkey as a whole is primarily Muslim.

“There are no minorities in this city or this country. We are all actual citizens,” he said.

In remarks to the public in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Francis noted the attack.

“I express my closeness to the community of (the church) in Istanbul, which during the Mass suffered an armed attack with one dead and some wounded,” the pontiff said.

The church is run by an Italian order of Franciscan friars. Italy’s foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, said his ministry was following the situation along with the Italian embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul.

“I express my condolences and firm condemnation for the vile attack on Santa Maria Church,″ Tajani wrote on X.

“I am certain that the Turkish authorities will arrest those responsible,” he added.

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