Police arrest suspect in priest's killing in Turkey

Turkish police have arrested the suspected killer of an Italian Catholic priest, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported Tuesday.

Andrea Santoro was shot twice in the back Sunday while praying in his church along the Black Sea coast. Witnesses say the killer screamed "Allahu Akbar," Arabic for "God is great," before firing two bullets into Santoro's back.

Turkey is a 99 percent Muslim country where thousands have protested the publication in European newspapers of provocative cartoons depicting Islam's most revered prophet as a terrorist. It wasn't clear if the killing was linked to the controversy.

Monsignor Luigi Padovese, the Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, who presided over the memorial service for Santoro on Monday, refused to speculate on the killer's motives.

"But unfortunately," he said, "the event happened during these days. Maybe this person, because he was a fanatic, was incited by these reports on the news, and did this for revenge, did it against a Christian presence in Turkey."

Earlier in the day, Padovese spoke inside the Trabzon church as the Islamic call to prayer issued from outside, and recalled the 60-year-old priest's final moments, reports the AP.

I.L.