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Masked gunmen kill one person in Constantinople Catholic church

Turkish authorities have captured two gunmen who shot one person dead on Sunday during a service at a Catholic Church in Constantinople, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said, in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

Yerlikaya said the attack, which Ankara condemned, took place around 0840 GMT at the Italian Santa Maria Catholic Church in Istanbul’s Sariyer district, and that one Turkish citizen – who was targeted by the gunmen – was killed while attending the service.

“The two murder suspects who caused the death of our citizen Tuncer Cihan during the Sunday service at the Santa Maria Church in Sariyer this morning have been captured,” Yerlikaya later said on social media platform X, without saying what the motive for the attack was or who had carried it out.

Shortly before, Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement on Telegram, saying it was in response to a call by the group’s leaders to target Jews and Christians.

CCTV footage from inside of the church, verified by Reuters, showed the masked gunmen entering the building and shooting the man who was walking in front of them. The CCTV footage shows the men leaving almost immediately afterwards.

President Tayyip Erdogan called the church’s priest to offer his condolences and support, his office said, publishing a video of the call.

Pope Francis conveyed his condolences over the attack after his weekly Angelus prayer.

Pope Francis says he is by the side of the Italian Catholic Church in Constantinople

“I declare that I am on the side of the community of the Church of Santa Maria Draperis in Constantinople, which during the service was attacked by an armed attack with one dead and many injured,” the Pope said after the end of the prayer in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.

“I express my closeness to the community of Saint Mary Draperis Church in Istanbul that suffered an armed attack during mass that caused one death,” Pope Francis said.

Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni said on X that Italy’s foreign ministry was following updates on the “despicable act” and condemned it.