A Roman Catholic priest from Lazio was murdered outside his church in the Black Sea port of Trabzon in Turkey on Sunday 5 Febuary. Father Andrea Santoro is thought to have been shot by a teenage boy seen fleeing from the church immediately after the shooting. It is not clear if his murder was connected to the recent widespread Muslim protests over cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper or whether he had upset local criminals with an attempt to mediate between rival gangs.
Father Santoro had been a popular priest in three Roman parishes before taking up his mission in Turkey, where he created the web site "Window for the Middle East" to promote dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Born in Priverno, a hill town in the province of Latina 55 km south of Rome, Father Santoro had recently been home to Italy and was killed after celebrating his first mass since his return to Turkey. Ex-parishioners in Rome met to hold a prayer vigil after news of his death arrived in the capital.