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Islamic State claims responsibility for attack on Catholic church in Istanbul

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed one person during Sunday Mass at a Roman Catholic church in Istanbul.

The extremist group said in a statement on Sunday night that it "attacked a gathering of Christian unbelievers during their polytheistic ceremony" inside the Santa Maria Church in the Buyukdere neighbourhood of Turkey's largest city.

Two men, one from Russia and one from Tajikistan who are believed to be members of Islamic State, have been arrested, Turkey's interior minister Ali Yerlikaya said last night.

The statement claiming responsibility for the attack was published on Aamaq, the media arm of the militant group, along with photos of two masked men holding guns that were identified as the attackers.

Islamic State said the attackers wounded another person but Turkish authorities said no one was injured other than the person who was killed.

Mr Yerlikaya said police raided 30 locations and detained suspects with alleged links to the shooting.

"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," he said.

DHA, a private news agency, said 51 people were detained during the police raids, including 23 who were sent to holding centres awaiting deportation.

Sukru Genc, mayor of Sariyer district where the attack took place, told the newspaper Birgun that the gunmen fled when their weapon jammed after firing two rounds.

The two suspects drove a car brought from Poland to Istanbul a year ago which had been never used until the day of the shooting, the DHA also reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the church's priest, the Reverend Anton Bulai, to offer his condolences.

Pope Francis also noted the attack in remarks at St Peter's Square in Vatican City on Sunday.

Earlier this month, 25 suspected Islamic State members were arrested across Turkey and accused of plotting attacks on churches and synagogues, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

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The Islamic State group has not previously targeted places of worship in Turkey, which is primarily Muslim.

But the extremist group has carried out a string of deadly attacks in the country, including a shooting at an Istanbul night club in 2017 that killed 39 people and a 2015 bomb attack in Ankara that killed 109.