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Italian Catholic Priest Stabbed in Western Turkey


A Catholic priest has been stabbed at a church in western Turkey, in the latest attack on a Christian in the predominantly Muslim country.

Turkish police say Italian priest Adriano Franchini was stabbed in the stomach Sunday after leaving a church service in the city of Izmir. They say he was taken to a hospital but his wounds were not life-threatening.

Turkey's Anatolia news agency says police detained a 19-year-old man on suspicion of attacking the priest. The motive for the stabbing was not immediately known.

Anatolia says the suspected assailant had traveled to Izmir from a town in the north, Balikesir, claiming to be interested in Christianity.

It says Franchini had invited the man to observe mass at the church and spoke with him about converting to Christianity.

There have been a series of attacks on Christians in Turkey in recent years. In one of the deadlest incidents, three Protestants were killed at the office of a Christian publishing house in the eastern city of Malatya in April.

The European Union has long complained that Turkey, an EU applicant, is not fully protecting the religious freedoms of its Christian minority, which makes up less than one percent of the population.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.