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What does ISIS' church attack in Turkey say about rise of Tajikistani militants?

The shooting at a church in Istanbul marks the first Islamic State attack in Turkey since 2017 as the extremist offshoot ISIS-K seeks to expand.
OZAN KOSE/Afp/AFP via Getty Images

ANKARA — The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on a Roman Catholic church in Istanbul on Sunday that killed one person. Experts see the footprints of the extremist jihadi group’s Khorasan branch.

Two balaclava-clad assailants raided the Santa Maria Catholic church in Istanbul’s Sariyer district during the Sunday service and randomly shot at the crowd, killing 52-year old Tuncer Cihan before escaping the scene. Cihan, who was buried in a Muslim ceremony, was an occasional visitor to the church, local news outlets reported.

Briefing the press Sunday midnight, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced that two murder suspects were caught, identifying them as a Tajikistani and a Russian national. 

“We think that these two foreign nationals, one from Tajikistan and the other from Russia, are Daesh members,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State militant group.

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