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Suspect Arrested Over Shooting Incident at Istanbul Catholic Church

Video screen capture showing gunmen open fire in Istanbul church.
Video screen capture showing gunmen shooting in Istanbul church. Credit: Twitter / Elips Haber

Turkish media reported on Sunday evening that one suspect was arrested in relation to the shooting incident inside a Christian Catholic church in Istanbul that left one dead earlier in the day.

Local authorities were searching for the two masked gunmen who opened fire at the Church of Santa Maria in the Sariyer district of Istanbul during Sunday morning mass, killing a 52-year-old man.

The incident took place at around 11.40 a.m. local time, in the presence of about forty worshippers, and police believe it was a targeted attack on the victim. There were no other injuries, officials confirmed.

CCTV released by Turkish media showed the two gunmen as they entered the church, following a man who had just come in. Witnesses reportedly said that the gun didn’t work after the second shot.

After shooting the man dead, the assailants are seen in a second video calmly leaving the building.

Officials condemn shooting in Istanbul Catholic church

The Turkish Interior Minister, Ali Yerlikaya, strongly condemned the “vile attack” and wrote on Twitter that a large-scale investigation was underway to apprehend the assailants.

“We will always continue to live by trusting each other in an environment of peace and security all over our country, especially in Istanbul,” Yerlikaya told reporters when he visited the scene a few hours later.

“Whoever carried out this attack should know that “It is our duty to identify them as soon as possible and bring them to justice, and we are determined to do so.” he concluded.

The mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, also condemned the attack with a post on Twitter.

“We will never allow those who try to destroy our unity and peace by attacking the religious places of our city,” he wrote.

Turkish President Erdogan made a phone call to the congregation of the church to express his condolences to the entire community. He stated that the necessary steps are being taken to catch the perpetrators as soon as possible, Anadolu news agency reports.

Church of Santa Maria founded by Franciscan priests

The Church of Santa Maria in Istanbul was founded by Franciscan priests in the 19th century, dedicated to the birth of the Virgin Mary.

The building was designed by the Swiss architect Gaspare Fossati as a two-storey, basilica-plan church in neoclassical style. Its construction began in 1864, and the church was opened to worship in 1866.

The altar, tabernacle and interior walls of the church are known for the numerous large-sized oil paintings in Marian art, with depictions of stories and descriptions from the Bible.

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