South Africa: Five killed in attack on church


Five people have been killed following an attack on a church in South Africa today.

South African police said the incident happened in the early hours of Saturday and some of the attackers took hostages who were later freed.

Suspects rounded up by police

Reuters reported that Police arrested around 40 people and seized 40 firearms, including rifles, shotguns and handguns, related to the attack on the International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom.

Police earlier posted pictures of some of the confiscated weapons on Twitter, saying they were dealing with a “hostage situation and shooting”.

One potential motive for the attack is a power struggle at the church between rival factions, local media reported.

“Everything was in complete disarray, so we have arrested all those that we reasonably believe are suspects, we are busy interviewing and interrogating them to establish exactly what the motive was,” police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo told the eNCA television station.

The BBC reported that the men who stormed the International Pentecostal Holiness Church were part of a splinter group.

According to the BBC, the church’s leadership has reportedly been the subject of infighting since its former leader died in 2016. Police had previously been called to the church following a shootout between members in 2018.

The year before, the church’s finances had come under the spotlight, amid allegations some 110m rand ($6.5m; £5.2m) had gone missing, according to The Sowetan newspaper.

Sources: BBC and Reuters.