updated 12/16/2007 10:32:06 AM ET 2007-12-16T15:32:06

A Catholic priest was stabbed in the stomach and hospitalized Sunday in the latest in a series of attacks on Christians in Turkey, officials said.

The priest, Adriano Franchini, was in surgery, Italian embassy official Antonino Maggiore said. Maggiore had no immediate information on the motive of the attack or how it had happened.

The state-run Anatolia news agency said Franchini was stabbed in the stomach but his condition was not life-threatening.

Private news channel Haberturk said a man in his early 20s was detained after the attack.

The man approached the priest saying that he wanted information on Christianity, Haberturk said. An argument broke out between the two shortly afterward and the man stabbed the priest, the report said.

The priest heads the Church of St. Mary in Ephesus but was in the nearby port city of Izmir at the time of the attack, Maggiore said.

In February 2006, at a time of widespread anger in the Islamic world over the publication in European newspapers of caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, a 16-year-old boy shot a Catholic priest to death as he knelt in prayer inside his church in the Black Sea city of Trabzon.

Following that murder, a Catholic priest was attacked and threatened in the Aegean port city of Izmir, and another was stabbed in the Black Sea port of Samsun. In November this year, an Assyrian cleric was abducted in southeast Turkey and rescued by security forces.

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