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Catholic priest shot dead in church in Turkey

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  • aggreen1
    Reuters Catholic priest shot dead in church in Turkey Sun Feb 5, 5:55 PM ET An Italian Roman Catholic priest was shot dead in his church in the Turkish Black
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 5, 2006
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      Reuters


      Catholic priest shot dead in church in Turkey

      Sun Feb 5, 5:55 PM ET



      An Italian Roman Catholic priest was shot dead in his church in the
      Turkish Black Sea city of Trabzon on Sunday, triggering condemnation
      from Turkey's government and pledges to track down the killer.

      "The priest was shot dead at his church this afternoon but we have
      no more details at present. An investigation has begun," a police
      spokesman told Reuters.

      Turkish media said police were looking for a young man aged about 17
      years old seen fleeing from the church of Santa Maria.

      The state Anatolian news agency identified the dead man as 60-year-
      old Andrea Santaro. Other Turkish media said he had been in Turkey
      about five years.

      The gunman's motive was unclear. Turkey is overwhelmingly Muslim and
      has only a tiny Christian population.

      "We strongly condemn this treacherous attack," Turkey's Foreign
      Ministry said in a statement which stressed the country's long
      history of religious tolerance and coexistence.

      "We hope this kind of deplorable event will not be repeated and that
      it will not damage the atmosphere of tolerance in our country," the
      statement said.

      In a separate statement, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek vowed to find
      the gunman, adding that the shooting of a man of religion in a house
      of worship was "beyond comprehension."

      Anatolian quoted Trabzon governor Huseyin Yavuzdemir as saying the
      priest had received threats for conducting "missionary activities"
      in Turkey.

      Christian missionaries have in the past drawn criticism from some
      Turks, including government ministers, who are keen to preserve
      Turkey's strong Muslim culture and identity.

      Turkey, like many other Muslim countries, has seen protests in many
      cities and towns over the past week against cartoons published in
      several European newspapers depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

      Turkish leaders have expressed strong distaste at the cartoons, but
      have also called for calm and better understanding between different
      cultures and religious faiths.

      Turkey's non-Muslim clergy, including Istanbul-based Ecumenical
      Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of the world's Orthodox
      Christians, have also condemned the cartoons, which were first
      published in a Danish newspaper.

      Violent attacks on Christian clergy are virtually unheard of in
      Turkey, which takes pride in its history as a bridge between mainly
      Christian Europe and the predominantly Muslim Middle East, and which
      also gave shelter to Jews over many centuries.




      Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited.
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