updated 6/3/2010 9:41:58 AM ET 2010-06-03T13:41:58

A Roman Catholic bishop has been stabbed to death in southern Turkey, a government official said.

Luigi Padovese, the pope's apostolic vicar in Anatolia, was attacked in his home in the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun.

Gov. Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz said police had detained a man suspected of carrying out the killing.

He said the suspect was the bishop's driver who had worked for him for the past four-and-a-half years. The arrested man was identified by police only as Murat A.

NTV television said the priest had died in a hospital.

There was no immediate word from the Vatican.

String of attacks
The killing is the latest in a string of attacks in recent years on Christians in Turkey, where Christians make up less than 1 percent of the 70 million population.

In 2007, a Roman Catholic priest in the western city of Izmir, Adriano Franchini, was stabbed and slightly wounded in the stomach by a 19-year-old after Sunday Mass. The young man was arrested.

The same year, a group of men entered a Bible-publishing house in the central Anatolian city of Malatya and killed three Christians, including a German national.

The five alleged killers are now standing trial for murder.

The killings — in which the victims were tied up and had their throats slit — drew international condemnation and added to Western concerns about whether Turkey can protect its religious minorities.

In 2006, amid widespread anger in Islamic countries over the publication in European newspapers of caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, a 16-year-old boy shot dead a Catholic priest, Father Andrea Santoro, as he prayed in his church in the Black Sea city of Trabzon.

The boy was convicted of murder and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

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