On Sunday, two masked attackers launched an armed attack on the Santa Maria Draperis Church, an Italian Catholic church located in the Sariyer district of Istanbul.
The attack occurred at approximately 11:40 a.m. during a religious ceremony, resulting in the death of one individual, identified as C.T., who was among those attending the Sunday service.
Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya took to social media to provide details of the incident, revealing that the armed assailants targeted the church, causing chaos and leaving attendees in shock.
The attackers fled the scene after the shooting, a swift response from Turkish authorities. Yerlikaya announced the initiation of an investigation to the perpetrators and on the motive behind the attack.
Television images captured the aftermath of the assault, depicting a heavy police presence and an ambulance outside the ornate church.
While the details surrounding the weapons used in the attack were not disclosed, it was evident that the assailants specifically targeted an individual during the religious ceremony.
“We strongly condemn this vile attack,” addressed Yerlikaya. The motive for the attack remains unclear, leaving both authorities and the public struggling with questions surrounding the incident.
Turkey’s ruling AKP party spokesman, Omer Celik, condemned the attack, said that the assailants had aimed at a citizen during the mass.
Celik confirmed that security forces were engaged in an investigation to address the incident and prevent any threats to the peace and security of citizens.
There were reports in local media suggesting that additional individuals may have been injured, but as of now, these reports have not been officially confirmed by authorities.
In December of the previous year, Turkish security forces detained 32 suspects with alleged links to Islamic State jihadists, who were reportedly planning attacks on churches, synagogues, and the Iraqi embassy.
The Islamic State has previously carried out attacks on Turkish soil, including an assault on an Istanbul nightclub in 2017 that resulted in the death of 39 people.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed condolences over the attack on the church and assured that necessary steps were being taken to the perpetrators.
The president, who spoke with local officials and a priest at the Italian church, addressed the urgency of catching the attackers.
Pope Francis also voiced his support for the community of the Santa Maria Draperis Church in Istanbul, expressing his closeness during the Angelus prayer at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
Italy’s foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, condemned the armed attack and offered condolences while expressing confidence in the Turkish authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
As the investigation happening, it is important for authorities to provide transparent updates to the public.
The security of religious institutions, regardless of denomination, should be a top priority to ensure the safety and well-being of worshippers.