UK issues travel advice after fatal attack at Istanbul Catholic church during morning mass

FCDO advises against all travel to parts of Turkey.

In a harrowing incident, two gunmen infiltrated the Santa Maria Church in  the Sariyer district in Istanbul, transforming a peaceful Sunday morning mass into a horrifying scene of violence, resulting in the death of one individual.

FCDO advise “all British Nationals in the area to follow the advice of the Turkish authorities. British Nationals in the region should remain vigilant.”

The assault occurred around 11:40 local time (08:40 GMT) at the historical 19th-century church, located in close proximity to a quaint fish market along the European side of the Bosphorus. The Church of Santa Maria, known for its high walls and solemn ambiance, was rocked by the unexpected violence.

Turkey’s Interior Minister, through a statement on “X“, a social media platform, confirmed that the suspects involved in the murder were apprehended. However, details regarding their motives remain undisclosed.

The Islamic State group, in a startling claim on Telegram, took responsibility for the attack, stating that two of its members executed the act and subsequently escaped.

Turkish media released CCTV footage capturing the moment of the attack. The video showed parishioners standing, facing the altar, when the assailants entered and targeted a man who had just entered the church. After the victim was shot and fatally wounded, the attackers left the scene in a composed manner.

Post-incident, the area surrounding the church was cordoned off by police, and inside the church, investigators gathered eyewitness accounts from the attendees present during the attack.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, alongside Istanbul Governor Davut Gul, visited the site. Gul informed reporters that the victim was a Turkish citizen, and no other casualties were reported. The victim, identified only as CT, was reportedly a 52-year-old man on the verge of converting to Christianity, as per statements from his family. They also mentioned his mental health issues, asserting that he was not the intended target of the attack.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan extended his condolences and assured that swift actions were underway to apprehend the perpetrators. He projected confidence in their capture within 24 hours.

In a show of solidarity, the Pope expressed support to the Santa Maria church community during his weekly prayer at the Vatican.

This attack is a rare occurrence against Turkey’s Christian minority. The local mayor emphasized the harmonious coexistence of Muslims and Christians in the area, noting the profound shock this incident has caused in the community.

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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