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ISIS claims responsibility for Istanbul church shooting

Journalists and bystanders outside Santa Maria Church in Istanbul

OZAN KOSE | AFP

John Burger - published on 01/29/24

Polish consul and family were present for Sunday morning Mass where one person was shot dead.
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The Islamic State group, which terrorized Christians in Iraq and Syria in 2014, claimed responsibility for a killing that took place in a Catholic church in Turkey on Sunday, saying it was responding to a call to target Jews and Christians.

“In a communiqué issued Sunday evening, ISIS said that the attack was in response to a call by the terrorist group’s leadership to target Jews and Christians everywhere, according to the SITE intelligence group, which monitors extremist propaganda,” the New York Times reported

The attack took place around 11:40am at Santa Maria, an Italian Catholic church in Istanbul. Two masked men entered the church, which is in the Sariyer district of the city, and used pistols to shoot one man. Turkey’s interior minister Ali Yerlikaya identified the victim as Tuncer Cihan, 52. At least one other person was wounded in the incident.

On Sunday night, Yerlikaya said that two suspects had been arrested.

The Polish consul in Istanbul, Witold Lesniak, was present at the Mass, along with his wife and two of his children.

The state-run Anadolu news agency reported that Turkey last month arrested three people suspected of belonging to ISIS, saying the suspects were planning to attack churches, synagogues and the Iraqi Embassy in the country.

On Sunday, Pope Francis, after leading the Angelus prayer, publicly condemned the shooting.

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