(CTN News) – The morning worship at a Catholic church in Istanbul was turned into a horrific sight when two shooters opened fire, killing one guy. At around 11:40 local time (08:40 GMT), a gunshot occurred at the Church of Santa Maria during Sunday mass.
Turkey’s interior minister condemned the “vile attack” and announced the start of an investigation. People wanted by the police have not yet been located.
The terrorist organisation known as the Islamic State has claimed credit for the incident. Two of the group’s militants were responsible for the assault, according to a Telegram message, and they later ran away.
Istanbul Church: CCTV footage captured the exact moment of the incident
According to Turkish media reports, CCTV footage captured the exact moment of the incident. As the congregation rose to their feet and faced the altar, two assailants barged into the sanctuary from behind.
It seemed like they were following a guy who had just entered. Even after shooting him to death, the assailants quietly fled the scene. Located on the European side of Istanbul, next to a tiny fish market and the Bosphorus, this 19th-century church is surrounded by high walls. The police have blocked off the surrounding streets.
Authorities interviewed witnesses who were present during the assault inside the church. A guy named CT was killed in the incident, according to Ali Yerlikaya, the Turkish minister of interior who went to the scene.
Istanbul Governor Davut Gul spoke to the media outside the church and confirmed that the deceased was a Turkish citizen. He also assured them that no one else was injured. The assailants, he said, targeted a single individual.
Why the victim was singled out or what motivated the assault remained unclear. The man’s uncle spoke to the media, stating that the 52-year-old victim was on the verge of becoming a Christian but had not yet been baptised. Another relative denied being the victim of the assault and claimed to be suffering from mental illness.
As Istanbul’s mayor Ekrem Imamoglu put it on X, “We will never allow those who try to disrupt our unity and peace by attacking the places of faith in our city.”
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, offered his sympathies over the assault and promised to find the perpetrators “within 24 hours” after saying that “necessary steps” were being taken to apprehend them.
The Pope extended his solidarity, stressing his “closeness to the community of the Santa Maria church” as he concluded his weekly prayer at the Vatican. This kind of violence against Christians in Turkey is unusual.
There was genuine astonishment among the population, according to the local mayor, who added that Muslims and Christians lived in peace in the region.