ISTANBUL (Reuters)–One person was wounded in a bomb attack on Istanbul’s Phener Patriarchate–a leading center of the Greek Orthodox faith–church officials said on Wednesday.
An explosive device–believed to be a home-made bomb or a grenade–was thrown over a wall of the Patriarchate overnight.
"It did not go off immediately… Then it was like a sonic boom," a church official told Reuters. A deacon–Nektarios Nikolou–was hurt on his right shoulder–the official said.
The Patriarchate is the seat of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I–the spiritual head of 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.
Turkey on Wednesday condemned the bombing and vowed to take necessary precautions to prevent future attacks.
"We condemn these kind of violent acts in whichever country they occur. Naturally we will find those (who carried out the attack) and bring them in front of justice and make every possible effort to prevent a recurrence of these activities," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.
Windows of the Patriarch’s offices were damaged by the explosion but Bartholomeos was not in the compound at the time of the blast.
Fallen masonry and broken glass were scattered over a stone staircase beside the Patriarchate’s cathedral.
The windows of overlooking offices and a bookstall were shattered.
The device was thrown from the direction of buildings above the compound–which overlooks the city’s Golden Horn estuary.
Security is tight at the compound–monitored by close-circuit cameras and surrounded by barbed wire and high walls.
Turkish Islamists carried out grenade attacks on the Patriarchate in 1994 and 1996.
Church officials said city police chief Hasan Ozdemir visited the building in the early hours of the morning as part of an investigation into the attack.
Police set up roadblocks near the building.
The Orthodox presence in Istanbul is a throwback to centuries of Byzantine Greek control of the city–known as Constantinople until the Ottoman Turks conquered it in 1453.