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Three killed at Turkish publisher

18 April 07 16:00 GMT

Three people have been killed at a publishing house in Turkey that produced bibles, in an apparent attack on the country's Christian minority.

The victims were discovered at the Zirve publishing house in the eastern city of Malatya.

They were bound hand and foot and their throats had been slit, officials said.

Nationalists had protested at the publishing house in the past, accusing it of involvement in missionary activities, local media reported.

There is a rising wave of nationalist feeling in Turkey, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford reports, with Christian minorities complaining of pressure and harassment.

In the most serious incident so far, a Catholic priest was killed last year by a teenage nationalist gunman as he prayed in his church.

'Brutal crime'

The general manager of the publishing house, Hamza Ozant, told local media that his employees had been threatened in recent days.

A number of men had been detained in connection with the attack, local officials said.

Television pictures showed police leading several young men from the building.

One of those killed in the attack was German, the country's ambassador said.

"Even if the exact circumstances of the crime are not yet known, I most strongly condemn this brutal crime," Eckart Cuntz said in a statement.

Malatya is known here as a very nationalistic city, often with an extreme religious undertone, our correspondent adds.

It is the hometown of Mehmet Ali Agca, who in 1981 shot Pope John Paul II.

Turkey's Christian community comprises less than 1% of its population. More than 99% of the Turkish population is Muslim.

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