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Suspected Arsonist Sought in Fire at Turkish Bible Distribution Center

Turkish authorities are searching for a suspected arsonist in connection with a fire that destroyed thousands of New Testaments and other Christian books.

The fire started at approximately 7 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the offices of the Bible Correspondence Course in Turkey (BCC-Turkey), located in a multistory building that also houses a church in the Kadikoy neighborhood of Istanbul, according to officials of the ministry.

No one was injured in the fire and no structural damage was reported, but according to an initial estimate by BCC-Turkey, some 10,000 religious books were destroyed, many of them New Testaments. Total losses so far are estimated at approximately US$12,500.

Students who live in an apartment on the top floor of the building reported smoke to emergency dispatchers, who sent firefighters to the scene. The fire was put out in minutes, largely due to the fact that it remained contained to one corner of the storage area on the second floor of the building. Kadikoy International Church and the offices of BCC-Turkey, located on the third floor, were untouched.

Paul Weaver, media and IT director at the ministry, said the identity of the attacker is unknown, but his image appears in a security camera video the day of the attack. Of great concern to members of the ministry is that on Monday (Dec. 15), someone of a “suspicious nature,” likely the same man who was seen on the security camera footage, was found searching through the stairwell of the office building. Someone in the building became aware of his presence and chased him down the stairs. Once outside, he escaped.

“I think whoever did it knew something about what happens up here, because they kind of knew to come on a Sunday afternoon, and that if they were going to have an opportunity where there weren’t going to be a lot of people around, that’s probably the one that was most likely,” Weaver said.

He said that although the damage is a serious loss, it could have been much worse…Read More

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