Turkey Catholic Church suffers second attack this year

A Catholic church in Trabzon, Turkey has suffered its second attack this year.

A gun-attack this week followed a failed pipe bomb at Saint Maria Catholic Church. There have been no causalities but locals have warned that anti-Christian hate crimes are on the rise, with little concern from authorities. 

A lone gunman shot at the church on March 6, according to International Christian Concern (ICC). A month prior a pipe bomb had been placed in the church's garden, on the anniversary of the assassination of Fr Andrea Santoro, the priest killed at the church in 2006. Santoro was shot in the back of the head by an Islamic extremist, who executed Santoro whilst the priest was kneeling in prayer. ICC report that since the assassination, attacks against the church have increased.

Santa Maria Catholic Church in Trabzon, Turkey.Facebook

There were no causalities at Tuesday's shooting because no one was in the church at the time. The gunman, reportedly in his 40s, was arrested by police after fleeing the scene, according to Sat 7 Turk.

Five individuals were arrested following February's failed pipe bomb attack, but have all since been released. Locals have complained over the reluctance of authorities to properly respond to 'hate crimes' against the church.

'When we complain to the police, our share is decreasing and attacks are increasing,' a congregation member told Birgun. 'The church is being attacked, but the church and church community is seen as guilty. After the assassination of Santoro, there is a period of intense attacks.'

ICC's Regional Manager, Claire Evans said: 'While we are thankful that no one from Saint Maria was injured by the gunman, the number of times that the church has been blatantly targeted is extremely worrying.

'It is not a coincidence that the church has been targeted twice in the last two months. In a country whose constitution provides for the freedom of worship, Saint Maria's members should not have to live in fear of this kind of persecution.'