Three killed in attack on publisher of bibles in Turkey

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The Independent Online

Three people were killed at a publishing house that distributes bibles in the latest attack apparently targeting the tiny Christian minority in Turkey.

The victims were found yesterday with their throats slit and their hands and legs bound at the Zirve publishing house in Malatya, a city in eastern central Turkey. One was alive when found but died later in hospital, said the local governor, Ibrahim Dasoz.

Two of the victims were Turkish and one was a German who had lived in Malatya since 2003. Eckart Cuntz, the German ambassador to Turkey, said he was shocked. "Even if the exact circumstances of the crime are not yet known, I most strongly condemn this brutal crime," he said.

A man who jumped from a window to escape suffered head injuries and underwent surgery. Police detained four suspects, and believe that the man who jumped was one of the attackers, said Mr Dasoz.

Malatya is known as a hotbed of nationalists, and is the hometown of Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot the late Pope John Paul II in 1981.

The Zirve publishing house had been the focus of previous protests by nationalists, who accused it of proselytising - inducing someone to convert from their faith. Turkey is 99 per cent Muslim but it is officially a secular country.

Hamza Ozant, Zirve's general manager, told CNN-Turk that employees had recently been threatened, but could not say by whom.

The manner in which the victims were bound suggested the attack could have been the work of a local Islamist militant group, commentators said, and CNN-Turk television reported that police were investigating the possible involvement of Turkish Hizbollah - the Kurdish Islamic group that aims to form a Muslim state in the Kurdish-dominated south-east.