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Video capture of church members taking cover as ISIS militants invade a Turkish church, killing one person.

Police arrest 47 people connected to Istanbul church attack

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a church attack in Istanbul that left one person dead Sunday.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya made a statement on Twitter stating that the armed attackers struck the Santa Maria Church in the Sariyer suburb at 11:40 a.m. local time. Authorities say they’ve arrested 47 individuals connected with the attack.

Some media outlets have reported that the dead man was a Turkish national who wanted to convert to Christianity.

Yerlikaya denounced the assault and stated that efforts are underway to apprehend the attackers. An investigation has begun by local police.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who is a Muslim, spoke to media and expressed his sympathies and support for the city’s religious minority. Christians are a small minority in the country and typically avoid persecution seen in other areas of the Middle East such as the Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Turkey is officially a secular state.

“There are no minorities in this city or this country. We are all actual citizens,” he said.

Pope Francis mentioned the incident in remarks he gave to the public on Sunday in St. Peter’s Square. “I express my closeness to the community of (the church) in Istanbul, which suffered an armed attack during the Mass with one dead and some wounded,” the Pope stated.

The victim’s nephew, in an interview with the Associated Press, named the dead man as Tuncer Cihan. He asserted that the church, not his uncle, was the intended target, contradicting other reports.

An Italian order of Franciscan friars is in charge of the church. Antonio Tajani, the foreign minister of Italy, stated that the Italian consulate in Istanbul and the Italian embassy in Ankara were monitoring the situation.

“I express my condolence and firm condemnation for the vile attack on Santa Maria Church,” Tajani wrote on X. He added that “I am certain that the Turkish authorities will arrest those responsible.”

The neighborhood where the church is located includes both Muslim and Christian residents who live peacefully together. In a television report, local Muslim residents rallied outside the church in support of their Christian neighbors.

“We will never tolerate those who try to disrupt the peace of our country — terrorists, their collaborators, both national and international criminal groups, and those who aim at our unity and solidarity,” Yerlikaya said.

–Metro Voice and wire services.

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