One person has died in a shooting at a Catholic church in Istanbul during Sunday mass, Turkish authorities reported today. The attack took place around 11:40 a.m. (9:40 a.m. GMT) in the St. Mary’s Church in the Sariyer neighborhood, during the mass, reported the Turkish Interior Minister, Ali Yerlikaya, in his account on minister, without giving more details about the identity of the deceased. “A comprehensive investigation has been launched to arrest the attackers. We strongly condemn this cowardly attack,” Yerlikaya added.
According to the Turkish digital T24, the attackers entered the church during mass, with their faces covered with ski masks, and opened fire on the attendees, causing one person to die from a gunshot to the head before fleeing. He adds that there were also injuries, a point not confirmed by the authorities. A security camera on a street has captured the possible perpetrators of the attack walking just before the incident.
Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç announced that the Istanbul Prosecutor General’s Office launched an investigation and that a deputy chief prosecutor and two prosecutors were appointed to clarify the incident.
The church where the attack occurred has a deep-rooted history. It is located in the Büyükdere district of the Sarıyer district of Istanbul. It is the only Latin Catholic church located on the Bosphorus. Its construction began in 1864 and it opened for worship in 1866. It was designed by the architect Gaspare Fossati as a two-story basilica church in neoclassical style.
The governor of Istanbul, Davut Gül, confirmed to the press that the victim is not the parish priest of the church, although he did not specify the identity of the deceased. “We have spoken with the main priest to express our condolences. There is not much to add. Two masked people enter the church, shoot one person and this person dies,” Gül summarized, according to the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.
Numerous senior Turkish officials have condemned the attack, presenting it as a homicide. “We strongly condemn the armed attack against one of our citizens during mass at St. Mary’s Church in Istanbul,” Ömer Çelik, spokesman for the Islamist AKP party that has governed Turkey since 2002, wrote on the X network.
With information from Efe