Turkey arrests 25 over church shooting linked to Islamic State

Turkish authorities have arrested 25 suspects for their involvement in the fatal shooting at an Istanbul church last weekend, Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc announced on Friday.

Publication: 02.02.2024 - 10:35
Turkey arrests 25 over church shooting linked to Islamic State
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The arrests include two gunmen, previously detained by police, linked to the Islamic State, according to Tunc's statement on the social media platform X. Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya identified the primary suspects as foreign nationals from Tajikistan and Russia.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack via a Telegram statement, framing it as a response to the group's call for action against Jews and Christians. Tunc disclosed that the suspects face charges of belonging to an illegal organization and committing aggravated murder, while another nine individuals were released but will stand trial.

The assault occurred on Sunday morning at the Italian Santa Maria Catholic Church in Istanbul's Sariyer district, resulting in the death of a Turkish citizen present at the service. The victim, who entered the church during a walk and had no ties to any political or religious causes, according to his cousin, might have been spared if not for a weapon malfunction. CCTV footage confirmed by Reuters captured the moment the masked assailants entered the church and executed their attack.

This incident is part of a series of attacks by the Islamic State in Turkey, including a devastating assault on an Istanbul nightclub on January 1, 2017, that left 39 people dead. Since June 2023, Turkish officials have detained over 2,000 individuals suspected of affiliations with the Islamic State, as stated by Yerlikaya.

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