In an unprecedented incident, ‘extremists’ attack worshippers in S. Africa

Published: Updated:

A man hunt has been lunched by South Africa police Friday, after three men attacked and stabbed worshippers at a mosque outside Durban, on Thursday, in what is considered an unprecedented incident in the country where about 1.5 percent of the country’s 55 million population is Muslim.

A spokesman for the city’s police said the motive of the attack is still unknown but “elements of extremism” were involved.

The attackers killed one worshipper, reported to be an imam, and seriously injured two others after midday prayers on Thursday at a mosque in Verulam town, on the outskirts of the eastern port city.

It has been reported that the assailants, who also set off a petrol bomb inside the Shia mosque, escaped in a car after the attack.

The blood-soaked victims were found lying in the forecourt of the mosque by emergency services.

A knife was left on the ground, but police declined to confirm earlier reports that the attackers had carried guns.

South Africa prides itself on religious tolerance and has little record of violence related to religion.

The South African parliament’s police committee condemned the attack.

“A mosque is a religious institution, and South Africa’s constitution guarantees and protects the right to religious practices,” its chairman Francois Beukman said.

“We want our communities to live in harmony, practising their religions without fear."